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Source: Beason "Strongly Considering" Challenging Bachus

A source with ties to Alabama State Senator Scott Beason told Yellow Hammer Politics today that Sen. Beason is strongly considering challenging Rep. Spencer Bachus in the Alabama 6th Congressional District Republican primary in March, and will likely jump in the race.

The insider source, who asked to remain anonymous citing his conflicting interests should Beason enter the race, said that Beason realizes his name recognition has peaked with certain segments of the conservative electorate and that this may be his best chance to challenge the 10-term Congressman.

Congressman Bachus was hit in November with insider trading allegations during a 60-Minutes feature on Congressmen who allegedly use their insider knowledge to financially gain from stock trades. He denied the allegations and later proposed legislation that would require all members of congress to place their stocks, bonds, commodities, futures, and other forms of securities in blind trusts run by independent managers. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said earlier this week that he expects the House to move forward with a bill aimed at banning insider trading some time early next year.

Although the story received widespread national attention, the blow-back at home has been minimal.

As for Beason, his name recognition sky-rocketed in 2011. He co-sponsored Alabama’s tough new anti-illegal immigration law, a move that gained him a lot of Tea Party support. However, it was his role as a federal informant during the Alabama bingo trial that raised the most eyebrows. While wearing a wire, Sen. Beason was caught on tape calling black people “aborigines,” leaving most people scratching their heads wondering if he knew HE was the one wearing a wire. He has since apologized for the quip but he was removed by Senate leadership from his powerful position as Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee.

Here’s what I believe Beason is thinking:

1. His name recognition has peaked.
2. This is his best chance to run for the AL6 seat in a 1-on-1 race. Bachus will likely retire sometime in the next few terms and Republicans will be coming out of the woodwork to run for that seat.
3. He can paint Bachus as everything that’s wrong with American politics: An embedded Washington insider who uses his power for personal gain.

Here’s why Beason could have a shot at winning:

1. Beason could inspire a grassroots wave of support. Bachus is unpopular with the Tea Party and grassroots conservatives. He was publicly critical of Sarah Palin claiming she “cost us [Republicans] control of the Senate,” a statement that almost cost him the Chairmanship of the House Financial Services Committee. Palin fired back by railing against the “Bachus big government agenda.”
2. In a short primary, almost anything can happen. Beason is not a strong fundraiser but with a condensed time-frame, he could create a whirlwind of attention and free media and hope to run out the clock with the lead.

Here’s why Beason would probably come up short:

1. Bachus practically owns Congressional District 6. He has run unopposed since 2002 and hasn’t received less than 87% of the vote this entire decade.
2. Bachus has received a pass from the local media on the insider-trading allegations. Although Bachus disputes the charges, there were enough eye-brow-raising nuggets in the 60-minutes report to at least merit thorough coverage. For whatever reason, that just hasn’t seemed to happen locally.
3. Bachus would outspend Beason a zillion to one. Bachus currently has over $1 million cash on hand and again, Beason is not a prolific fundraiser.

So where does all of this leave us?

Senator Beason basically has a free shot at Congressman Bachus in 2012. Beason’s not up for reelection in the State Senate until 2014 so if he loses, he just goes back to the Senate probably no worse for the wear. Plenty of signs point to Beason getting in this race. Someone even put a poll out in the field earlier this week asking voters to choose between Beason and Bachus. However, my gut isn’t totally convinced he’s jumping in. Either way, we’ll know pretty soon.