By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
The Sixth Congressional District is a conservative district. Voters in the Sixth District voted for Senator John McCain (R-AR) over then Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) by an overwhelming margin 76 percent to 23 percent. By most measures, Republican Congressman Spencer Bachus (R-Vestavia) would be considered a conservative. In 2010, ‘National Journal’ ranked Rep. Bachus as a 76.3 on the Conservative voting record scale with 0 being the most liberal and 100 being the most conservative. On economic issues ‘National Journal’ ranked him as a 71. On foreign policy issues he ranked as a 77. On social issues he also scored a 77. National Journal ranked Rep. Spencer Bachus as the 114th most conservative Congressman in 2010 which puts him squarely in the middle of the Republican Party in the Congress. However, in the world of Alabama Republican politics that might not be conservative enough.
Congressman Bachus, who is seeking his 11th term in the United States Congress, is facing a primary challenge from the right of his own party. Tea Party favorite Alabama State Senator Scott Beason (R-Gardendale) announced today that he is seeking Rep. Bachus’s seat in the United States Congress. Sen. Beason who was recently stripped of his Chairmanship of the Alabama Senate Rules Committee by the Republican Caucus brings solid conservative credentials but also a lot of controversy to the race. By most measures Beason is one of the most conservative Republicans in the Alabama Senate. Senator Beason is a key witness in Alabama’s gambling trial where federal prosecutors have accused gambling kingpin Milton McGregor of trying to illegally influence certain Alabama legislators to support gambling legislation which would have given them exclusive gambling territory licenses. Sen. Beason wore a wire for the FBI investigation. The Senator’s critics have called him a racist for a joke on the floor of the Senate he made while wearing the wire, where he referred to Greenetrack patrons as “aborigines.” Senator Beason has also come under fire for his sponsorship of House Bill 56 which sought to limit the activities of illegal aliens in Alabama. The federal government has accused the state of Alabama of attempting to usurp federal authority, while critics as diverse as Alabama tomato farmers, the ACLU, Democrats, the U.S. Justice Department, and Alabama bishops have denounced the bill as going too far.
Rep. Bachus has his own critics. The CBS news program, ‘60 Minutes,’ featured Rep. Bachus as well as former Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) as examples of Congress members who having used lax Congressional rules to benefit personally from information gained through their Congressional duties. Sumiton Minister and businessman Stan Cooke, who is also running for the Sixth District House seat, denounced Rep. Bachus for his role in the passage of the controversial TARP bank bailout and in the vote to increase the nation’s debt ceiling. In an exclusive interview with the ‘Alabama Political Reporter,’ Rev. Cooke also criticized Rep. Bachus for the costly Cash for Clunkers program and for dissolving the Glass-Steagell which Cooke blamed for causing the economic meltdown. On his website Cooke wrote, “I have always been a true conservative Republican and I have never wavered from the American values that has shaped that political philosophy. Mr. Bachus on the other hand has a 20 year record in Congress of claiming to be a conservative but voting like a liberal democrat.” Rep. Bachus defeated Cooke in the Republican Primary two years ago.
There is a fourth Republican candidate in the field. Al Mickle, a businessman from Alabaster, is also running for the seat. Mickle says of Bachus, “We don’t have a representative. We have somebody who is bought and paid for by the banks. Over half of his money is raised from people outside of Alabama.” In an exclusive interview with the ‘Alabama Political Reporter,’ Mickle said, “I want to be a servant of the people. I am not going to Congress to be a dictator.”
Critics of Rep. Bachus have accused him of defying the will of the majority of the people of the district by voting for the TARP and for voting to raise the debt ceiling. Critics of Senator Scott Beason however have accused him of being too responsive to the views of the people of his conservative Senate district when he helped passed HB 56 and when he single-handedly blocked an attempt to impose a new occupation tax on the workers of Jefferson County.
Alabama Democratic Party Chairman Mark Kennedy has been quoted saying that the Alabama Democratic Party would run someone for the seat which the Democrats have not challenged for in several years. As of press time, that candidate has not been announced. If someone qualifies to run as a Democrat he or she will face the winner of the Republican Primary in the fall. Terry Reagin from Leeds has told the ‘Alabama Political Reporter’ that he intends to run for the seat in the fall as an independent.
Voters have to decide whether or not Congressman Bachus, who is the Chairman of the powerful House Committee on Financial Services, is serving their best interests, and would they be better served by a freshman Congressman with no seniority. The recently redistricted Sixth District includes all of parts of Jefferson, Blount, Shelby, Coosa, and Chilton Counties.