By William C. Singleton III
Seven Republican candidates have stepped up to try to represent the state’s Sixth Congressional District since U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Vestavia Hills, announced he would retire at the end of his term.
Bachus, who has served in the House of Representatives since 1993, succeeded Ben Erdreich, who served from 1983-1993. So if history repeats itself, the winner of the race is likely looking at a long tenure.
The winner will have to defeat Democrat Avery Vise, who is running unopposed.
But the Sixth Congressional District–thanks to redistricting that carved out the city of Birmingham–has swung more towards the right since the days of the Democratic Erdreich and includes suburban areas outside of Birmingham, the southwestern portions of Jefferson County and all of Bibb, Blount, Chilton, Coosa and Shelby counties.
The race to succeed Bachus as the district’s congressional representative in Washington, D.C., features two current state lawmakers–State Sen. Scott Beason, R-Gardendale, and State Rep. Paul DeMarco, R-Homewood. Other candidates are Gary Palmer, a conservative think tank founder; Will Brooke, an investment firm executive; Chad Mathis, an orthopedic surgeon; Robert Shattuck, a retired lawyer; and Tom Vigneulle, a business owner.
The candidates said they want to repeal Obamacare and are proponents of reducing government spending. Each candidate said he believes he has the necessary background, skills or perspective to make a difference in Congress.
The Republican primary is scheduled for June 3 with a runoff date of July 15 if no candidate receives 51 percent of the vote. The general election is scheduled for Nov. 4. The winner of the general election will start a two-year term in January.
Occupation: Small business owner and entrepreneur
Political experience: House District 51 state representative, 1998-2006; Senate District 17 representative, 2006-present
Education: Bachelor’s degree in geology with minor in English, University of Alabama
Why are you running for this office? “I always felt like if you want your elected official to stick with his conservative principles and do the things that you want him to do, the best way to do that is to be that elected official.”
For more information: Visit scottbeason.com
Residence: Birmingham’s Redmont neighborhood
Occupation: Executive vice president and managing partner of Harbert Management Corp.
Political experience: Board chairman for Business Council of Alabama, chairman of Progress PAC, chairman of the Alabama Innovation Study Commission
Education: Bachelor’s degree in business administration and law degree, University of Alabama.
Why are you running for this office? “I’m running because I’m concerned about our country’s future and I think it’s time for non-politicians, for citizens to step up and do something to influence it.”
For more information: Visit www.votewillforcongress.com
Occupation: Attorney for Parsons, Lee & Juliano PC
Political experience: House District 46 state representative, 2005-present
Education: Bachelor’s degree in journalism, Auburn University; law degree, University of Alabama
Why are you running for this office? “We need to have a strong advocate to represent this district in Washington, D.C., who has the courage to take on the difficult issues such as the national debt, the healthcare law, the overreaching regulations we see coming from Washington, D.C., but also somebody who’s worked in the community.”
For more information: Visit www.pauldemarco.org
Residence: Indian Springs Village
Occupation: Orthopedic surgeon, managing partner of Alabama Bone and Joint Clinic
Political experience: None
Education: Bachelor’s degree in chemistry, University of Evansville; medical degree from Indiana University Medical School
Why are you running for this office? “I’m living the American Dream. I’m the first person in my family to go to college. I worked my way through college working in the same factory as my dad. We moved here to build a successful practice and raise our kids.”
For more information: Visit www.drmathisforcongress.com
Occupation: Founder of Alabama Policy Institute, a conservative think tank
Political experience: None
Education: Bachelor’s degree in operational management, University of Alabama; honorary doctorate, University of Mobile
Why are you running for this office? “I decided to get in because I think we’ve got an opportunity to get our country back on the right track and that opportunity is closing. I’ve worked almost 25 years in public policy outside elected office and I’m convinced that I can be more effective inside than I can outside.”
For more information: Visit palmerforalabama.com
Residence: Mountain Brook
Occupation: Retired tax and bond attorney
Political experience: Unsuccessful attempt to get on 2012 ballot as an independent candidate for the Sixth Congressional District
Education: Bachelor’s degree in math, Dartmouth College; law degree, Harvard University
Why are you running for this office? “I have for a long time thought Washington was not working well for the American people, and that’s what caused me to try to run in 2012. My campaign platform is not that the enemy is Obama and the Democrats. The only way the American people are going to get back government of, by and for the people in Washington is if Republicans, Democrats and Independents temporarily unite.”
For more information: Visit http://al6thcongdist-ihaveuntiljan13.blogspot.com/2014/04/on-getting-fed-up-with-other-candidates.html
Occupation: Owner of Royal Bedding Manufacturing
Political experience: None
Education: Studied business administration and broadcasting at Liberty Baptist College
Why are you running for this office? “We’ve got to have small businessmen in Washington, D.C., to protect small business interests. Nobody else can do it as well as I can because I am a small business owner. And if you take care of the small business owner, you take care of all the businesses because small business is the economic engine of America.”
For more information: Visit tomforalabama.com
Look for more election preview coverage in our May 29 issue.