Considering Bachus’ decision not to seek re-election, determining which Republican has the best chance to take over Bachus’ place in the House is one of the GOP’s top questions in Alabama these days.
Early on, a number of names were floated, but until recently only three had announced — state Rep. Paul DeMarco, orthopedic surgeon Chad Mathis of Indian Springs and Gary Palmer, CEO of the American Policy Institute, a conservative research agency.
Now there are four.
On Tuesday, Will Brooke, executive vice president of the Harbert Management Corp., threw his hat into the ring.
A candidate can’t get much more Republican establishment than Brooke. Harbert is an international investment management company specializing in private equity, venture capital, real estate and hedge funds. Corporate capitalist to the core, Brooke served as chairman of the Business Council of Alabama and helped shape its political agenda.
However, this GOP primary in the 6th district — which covers Mountain Brook, Homewood and Hoover and parts or all of Bibb, Blount, Chilton, Coosa, Jefferson and Shelby counties — could turn into an inter-party donnybrook like the one recently contested in the 1st district between winner Bradley Byrne and his Tea Party opponent, Dean Young.
It will be compelling politics if DeMarco, Mathis and Palmer position themselves to pull this off against Brooke.
Of the three, Mathis is a strong option for conservative Republicans. Described as a Tea Party activist, he underscored his commitment to the right wing when he campaigned for Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, last year. Palmer, meanwhile, is a frequent speaker at Tea Party events in Alabama.
Realizing he might have Tea Party opposition, Brooke stressed unity and, while he said he did not think “the rift (in the GOP) is that serious,” he felt confident he “could bridge that gap.”
One place there is unity is the message all the candidates are putting out. To the man they are against Obamacare, opposed to intrusive government, and want to cut spending and balance the budget.
However, because they all want the same thing, the key to getting elected will be to convince voters that they are best qualified (or their opponents are less qualified) to get the job done. When issues are not the issue, personal traits, accomplishments and associations are pushed to the forefront. That is when a campaign can get nasty.
Maybe Alabama’s 6th congressional district candidates can avoid this. The 1st congressional district candidates certainly didn’t.