Coming out of Tuesday’s primaries, the big headline at the New York Times is that Rep. Artur Davis lost his bid to become Alabama’s first black governor, being defeated in the Democratic primary by state agriculture commissioner Ron Sparks.
The basic problem for Davis was that he ran a general-election campaign in the Democratic primary. Davis voted against ObamaCare and, when I traveled to Alabama in February and covered a gubernatorial candidate forum in Montgomery, I was struck by how conservative Davis’s rhetoric was. Sparks ran as a liberal populist, and got endorsed by the major black political organizations in the state.
In the Alabama 5th District Republican primary, meanwhile, party-switcher Parker Griffith lost badly to Madison County commissioner Mo Brooks. Griffith’s change from “D” to “R” did not placate the district’s conservative voters and enraged local Democrats, prompting an unusual bipartisan grassroots protest when House Republican leader John Boehner came to Huntsville for a Griffith fundraiser.
The GOP establishment also got a shock in Alabama’s 2nd District, where the National Republican Congressional Committee’s hand-picked candidate Martha Roby failed to get a majority in the primary and will face a July 13 runoff against Tea Party-backed candidate Rick Barber.