Come Wednesday morning the state GOP hopes to find itself with a Senate majority for the first time in 136 years. I’ve listened carefully enough in the right corners that I can tell you how the GOP believes that can happen.
In the 35 seat Senate, a caucus needs 18 votes to have a majority.
Five Republican incumbents are unopposed: Arthur Orr in SD 3, Jabo Waggoner in SD 16, Jimmy Holley in SD 31, Tripp Pittman in SD 32, and Rusty Glover in SD 34. Two more Republicans will be entering the Senate without any opposition: state Rep. Cam Ward in SD 14 (in the seat Hank Erwin vacated to run for Lt. Gov) and Slade Blackwell in SD 15 (in the seat last held by Republican Steven French).
The GOP feels quite good about its chances in six other races:
- Paul Bussman in SD 4 (against incumbent Zeb Little),
- Greg Reed in SD 5 (against Brett Wadsworth for the seat vacated by Republican Charles Bishop),
- Clay Scofield in SD 9 (against Tim Mitchell for the seat vacated by retiring Democrat Hinton Mitchem),
- Del Marsh in SD 12 (against Wallace Wyatt),
- Scott Beason in SD 17 (against Tommy Hudson),
- Dick Brewbaker in SD 25 (against Doug Smith for the open seat vacated by retiring Republican Larry Dixon).
Only two of those are GOP incumbents (Beason and Marsh) but Republicans have felt quite good about their chances in these elections.
The Republicans believe with only some less confidence than they have in the above races that they are likely to win two more races:
- Bill Holtzclaw who is challenging Dem Tom Butler in SD 2, and
- Incumbent Ben Brooks in SD 35 (against Scott Buzbee)
If you are keeping up, you know that these total 15 seats. If they win those 15, then the keys to winning the Senate lie in three district races that the GOP believes are clearly leaning their way:
- SD 21 where state Rep. Gerald Allen is challenging Democratic incumbent Phil Poole,
- SD 27 where former Dem Tom Whatley is challenging Democratic incumbent Ted Little, and
- SD 30 where Bryan Taylor is challenging Democratic incumbent Walking Wendell Mitchell
Those three Democratic Senators have served a combined 76 years or nineteen terms in the state Senate, and the GOP believes they are poised to send them packing.
Victories in all of the above races would give the GOP 18 votes necessary to claim a Senate majority.
In addition, four other Republicans could provide either a larger majority or a cushion in case the Dems pull surprises in any of the above races. Incumbent Paul Sanford in SD 7 (fighting off a challenge from Jeff Enfinger), Phil Williams in SD 10 (against Dem incumbent Larry Means), Gerald Dial in SD 13 (against Greg Varner for Democrat Kim Benefield‘s old seat), and Danny Joyner in SD 22 (against incumbent Marc Keahey) are in races that the GOP believes are leaning their way.
Other races could go their way as well, but here is the path that the GOP sees to a Senate majority.
Good helpers from across the spectrum have helped the Parlor update our rankings of the state Senate races. Let’s jump in and look at ten races that we are moving from the last time we updated the races.
- SD 4 moves from Toss Up to Lean GOP – Senate Majority Leader and three term incumbent Zeb Little (D) has a fight on his hands with Republican challenger Paul Bussman (R). Will Little’s new ad addressing his DUI help him in the stretch run?
- SD 6 from Safe DEM to Likely DEM – In a year where the markers are lining up the Republicans’ way, few seats are safe – to the point that Republican Jim Bonner’s chances look some more promising than before in his challenge against six-term Democratic Senator Roger Bedford.
- SD 7 from Toss Up to Lean GOP – Dems expected former legislator Jeff Enfinger to mount a strong challenge against freshman Republican Senator Paul Sanford. With Enfinger’s campaign facing tough questions about years-old financial irregularity, his odds looks longer. (Kudos to Flashpointblog who was sniffing out this issue from the get-go.)
- SD 8 from Likely DEM to Lean DEM – When has the GOP had this good of a shot at the Senate Democratic veteran Lowell Barron? The seven term Senator faces Republican Shad McGill.
- SD 9 from Lean GOP to Likely GOP – Outgoing Democrat Hinton Mitchem was a prime example of how the Dems held the state legislature so long in a state moving right; he was a deep-rooted incumbent holding fast against shifting political winds. He’s gone, and Republican Clay Scofield looks primed to win the seat against Democrat Tim Mitchell.
- SD 10 from Likely DEM to Toss Up – Democrat Larry Means is strong in his district, but the recent indictment gives Republican Phil Williams an opening.
- SD 13 from Lean GOP to Toss Up – This is the only district moving in the Democrats’ direction in the estimation of our contributors. Democrat Greg Varner faces former Senator (and former Democrat) Gerald Dial in a race for the seat being vacated by Democrat Kim Benefield.
- SD 21 from Toss Up to Lean GOP – Republican state Rep. Gerald Allen is giving four term Democratic Senator Phil Poole a strong challenge.
- SD 27 from Toss Up to Lean GOP – Eight term (!) Democratic incumbent Ted Little has his hands full with former Dem Tom Whatley in a year when it’s good to have the R next to the name.
- SD 30 from Lean DEM to Toss Up – Democrat Wendell Mitchell is in his seventh term, but Republican Bryan Taylor hopes to make it Mitchell’s last.
Here’s what the chart looks like (red indicates a move to the right, blue to the left):
|Alabama State Senate Races
If this chart is our starting place, then the Republicans’ chances of ending the Democrats’ 136 year reign of controlling the Senate are looking better and better. The Democrats aren’t out of it by any means; if they win all the toss-ups and the ones on their side of the chart, that represents 17 of the 18 votes necessary to claim a majority. They certainly could get to 18 if they pick up one from the right side or perhaps get erstwhile Republican Harri Anne Smith to caucus with them if she wins re-election as an Independent.
But it sure is easier to see how it works out for the Republicans. For example if they win just two of the four listed here as toss-ups, they could even lose one from their side of the chart and still win the Senate.
David Ferguson, former campaign manager for Republican gubernatorial candidate Robert Bentley, is now the campaign manager for state Senate District 9 candidate Clay Scofield. Ferguson was with the Bentley campaign through the primary election that secured Bentley’s place in the primary runoff against Bradley Byrne.
Republican SD 9 nominee Scofield faces Democrat Tim Mitchell in a race for the seat long held by Democrat Hinton Mitchem. Ferguson’s hometown of Albertville is in Senate District 9.
The text of the release from the Scofield campaign is below.
Continue reading “Former Bentley Campaign Manager Ferguson Moves to Scofield Campaign”
July’s REDMAP Political Report [.pdf] from the Republican State Leadership Committee contends that nationally in 2010 Republicans will pick up control of four legislative chambers, that Democrats will not pick up any, and that twelve chambers controlled by Democrats (including Alabama’s House and Senate) are “solidly in play.”
The report explains, “The REDistricting MAjority Project (REDMAP) is a program of the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) dedicated to winning Republican control of state legislatures that will have the most impact on Congressional redistricting in 2011.”
According to the report, three open state Senate seats in Alabama are in play, one held by a Republican and two held by Democrats. In addition, seven Democratic incumbents and two Republican incumbents hold seats are in play. The GOP needs to pick up a net of three Senate seats to control the chamber.
Let’s see… There are more than three open Senate seats, so they must be keying on SD 5 (being vacated by Republican Charles Bishop), SD 9 (Democrat Hinton Mitchem), and SD 13 (Democrat Kim Benefield) as the ones in play.
The two Republican Senate incumbents whose seats are in play must be Paul Sanford (SD 7) and Jim Preuitt (SD 11).
Now the seven Democratic incumbents whose Senate seats are in play… they must be Tom Butler (SD 2), Zeb Little (SD 4), Phil Poole (SD 21), Ted Little (SD 27), Wendell Mitchell (SD 30), and… hmm… a Republican familiar with the situation confirms that the last two are Lowell Barron (SD 8) and Larry Means (SD 10). Those two and Marc Keahey in SD 22 were the threesome I was trying to choose among for the last two spots.
On the state House side… The GOP needs to pick up a net of 8 seats. The Report offers that four open seats held by Democrats are in play in Alabama. They must mean four of these five: HD 8 (being vacated by Bill Dukes), HD 9 (Ron Grantland), HD 26 (Frank McDaniel), HD 85 (Locy Baker) and HD 92 (Seth Hammett). I suppose HD 85 is the one not being included.
The Report also contends that seats held by nine Democratic incumbents are in play. I suppose they mean Mike Curtis (HD 2), Henry White (HD 5), James Fields (HD 12), Ken Guin (HD 14), Jeff McLaughlin (HD 27), Jimmy Martin (HD 42), Lesley Vance (HD 80), Betty Carol Graham (HD 81), and Terry Spicer (HD 91).
No House seats held by Republican incumbents are indicated to be in play though I believe the argument could be made that David Grimes (HD 73) or possibly DuWayne Bridges (HD 38) are as vulnerable as, say, James Fields.
The full report is here in .pdf form. The website for the Republican State Leadership Committee is here.
If you would like to play along with the home version of the game, the 2010 House Elections Directory and Senate Elections Directory may be helpful though the ratings of the districts found there (lean Dem, likely GOP, etc.) are overdue for review.
Everybody’s talking about the GOP governor’s runoff and, to some degree, the Congressional races for the GOP in AL-02 and the Dems in AL-07. Here are six downballot races of interest that we’re watching in the Parlor today.
A question that looms over the elections with the potential to affect downballot races: will Democrats really cross over in large numbers to vote in the GOP gubernatorial runoff? I have been a bit skeptical that they would, but I hear anecdotes that suggest a good many are.
- Democrats’ Attorney General race, James Anderson and Giles Perkins. You would expect the race for the highest contested office on the Democratic side to be burning brightly, but it is getting very little oxygen. Said one Democratic regular to the Parlor, “Anderson dropped off the radar. I don’t know where he’s been the last 6 weeks.” Perhaps he feels he can keep his powder dry for the general election; he fell a whisker short of winning outright with 49.6% of the vote to Perkins’ 31.1%. Perkins is more firmly entrenched in Democratic Party politics (picking up support from state Sen. Bobby Singleton and Howard Dean, for example). If a lot of Dems crossover, Perkins is probably helped. One Montgomery GOP’er tells the Parlor that Dems crossing over to vote in the GOP primary could have a “huge impact” on this race.
- Republicans’ PSC race, Place #1, Twinkle Cavanaugh and Stephen Evans. Cavanaugh came in at 49.4% of the vote to Evans’ 25.9%. Cavanaugh would no doubt provide stronger competition to Democratic incumbent Jan Cook in November. To what degree will Evans be helped by Democratic crossover voters unlikely to vote for Cavanaugh? As former state GOP chair and later in Riley’s administration, Cavanaugh represents GOP establishment. Dems voting in the primary would be more likely to go for the relatively unknown Evans.
- Democrats in SD 28, Billy Beasley and Johnny Ford. Beasley looks to have the edge here for the nomination for this open seat, to the consternation of Johnny Ford who believes the majority African-American district should be represented by an African-American. Ford launched his “SOS” campaign (for “Save Our Seat”) after Beasley led 48% to 28% in the first election, but that hasn’t stopped retiring state Sen. Myron Penn from endorsing Beasley to be his successor (.docx). One Republican insider tells the Parlor that this is the Senate race most likely to be affected by crossover voting, the idea being that Ford supporters might be more likely to vote in the Democratic primary and Beasley supporters might be a bit more likely to consider voting in the GOP gubernatorial primary.
- Republicans in SD 9, Clay Scofield and Don Spurlin. Spurlin has not run quite as strong as expected, and Scofield has been something of a surprise. Scofield led the field with 6,531 votes to Spurlin’s 5,651 and picked up the endorsements of the two candidates defeated in the primary. This is the seat opened up by the retirement of longtime Democratic state Sen. Hinton Mitchem and is a key to GOP hopes of taking the Senate from the Dems.
- Republicans in SD 4, Paul Bussman and Patricia McGriff. Republicans hope Bussman could give incumbent Zeb Little a challenge but Bussman hasn’t yet gotten past McGriff. Bussman led McGriff 42.8% to 32.2% in the primary. Bussman hopes to nail it down tonight, but it could be a close one.
- Republicans in HD 5, Steve Pepper and Dan Williams. Former Athens Mayor Williams was a good “get” for the Republicans who hope he will run strong against Democratic incumbent Henry White, but he has got to get by Pepper. Williams led Pepper 49.6% to 33.6% in the primary.
What races are you watching?
Republican Senate District 9 candidate Don Spurlin has two new TV ads for his runoff campaign against Clay Scofield.
The first one touches on the issue of jobs:
The second one taps into south Huntsville’s frustration with the Huntsville Housing Authority:
Continue reading “SD 9 Candidate Don Spurlin Airs Ads for Runoff”
In this ad, Don Spurlin, Republican candidate for Senate District 9, says he is tackling the immigration issue head-on: “We’ll pass a law to arrest illegal immigrants on criminal trespass charges if they set foot in Alabama, and we’ll make it a crime to provide them transportation anywhere in the state.”
Should this issue also be addressed on the employer side of the situation? If employers had sufficient incentive not to hire workers who are here illegally (and had the means to verify), would these immigrants stay or even continue to come if there were not jobs here for them?
Tony Cochran, GOP candidate for Senate District 9, identifies his concerns (but not yet his solutions) facing the state in a new ad airing in Huntsville and Marshall County.
Clay Scofield, Don Spurlin, and John Wilson are also in the GOP primary race. Kenneth Brothers and Tim Mitchell face each other in the Democratic primary.
Don Spurlin is also on the air in Senate District 9 and has been for a few weeks.
Same crowd in the race as mentioned before… Republicans Don Cochran, Clay Scofield, and John Wilson, Democrats Kenneth Brothers and Tim Mitchell.
This ad for Tony Cochran’s Senate campaign begins airing Thursday.
Six candidates are seeking the Senate District 9 seat occupied by Hinton Mitchem (D – Union Grove) for eight terms. Cochran will compete in the Republican primary with Clay Scofield, Don Spurlin and John Wilson. Kenneth Brothers and Tim Mitchell battle for the Democratic nomination.
After taking a hike in the Smoky Mountains with his family last week, State Rep. Jeff McLaughlin (D – Guntersville) decides not to enter the race for the Senate District 9 seat being vacated by Hinton Mitchem (D – Union Grove).
From the Arab Tribune:
Many political observers had considered McLaughlin heir-apparent for Mitchem’s seat after the 36-year lawmaker announced his retirement March 8. While leaning against running for the senate, last week McLaughlin found himself heavily courted by the Democratic leadership in Montgomery and by others in Marshall County.
McLaughlin has a self-imposed limit on contributions to his campaign, which if he continued would handicap him in an open Senate race. Even now he may have his hands full in a House re-election bid as the GOP has been making gains in Marshall County. A Senate victory would not have been impossible for the respected McLaughlin but with the retirement this year of Democrats Mitchem and state Rep. Frank McDaniel (of Albertville), the Dems’ best chance of holding a legislative seat in the county is no doubt with McLaughlin running for re-election in his House seat.
Four Republicans have entered the SD 9 race: Tony Cochran, Clay Scofield, Don Spurlin and John Wilson.