In Alabama, Ron Sparks declines to run in AL-05, sticking to his gubernatorial bid
"It would be an honor to represent the people of the 5th Congressional District in Washington. It would be my honor to stand up against those who break their word and betray their supporters. But right now I think it's more important that I represent the people in the 5th Congressional district in Montgomery."
-- Alabama State Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks,
in a statement today
Well, Alabama State Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks has made his decision. He's not going to switch his sights from the Democratic gubernatorial nomination (to succeed term-limited Republican Gov. Bob Riley) to the nomination for AL-05, the House seat currently held by first-termer Parker Griffith, apparently one of the less popular members of Congress, all the more so since he announced his (largely technical) switch from DINO-dom to full-fledged Confederate, I mean Republican, Party membership.
Sparks had been encouraged to run for that seat in 2006, when long-time Rep. Bud Cramer retired, but declined, and he's declining again. "I made a commitment to the people of Alabama when I decided to run for governor," he told the Associated Press.
When I wrote on Monday that DCCC chair Chris Van Hollen was reported to be personally lobbying Sparks into the race -- thereby also leaving a clear path to the Dem gubernatorial nomination for go-along, get-along Rep. Artur Davis -- I mentioned that Howie had written about Sparks in 2007, with some pretty inspiring quotes to back up the claim that he's a fiery populist. I thought of requoting those quotes, but eventually settled for including a link. Or at least I thought I did.
No, I was sure I did. Except I couldn't find any damned link there! Well, I've inserted it now, but since people who read that piece originally didn't have the link available, I'm also going to resurrect those 2007 quotes, so you can see what caught Howie's attention back then:
I don't know about you, but I'm getting tired of the $3 a gallon gasoline. I'm tired of seeing Exxon-Mobile bringing out these $10 billion profits. I'll tell you something: There's something wrong when you pay an executive, a CEO of a large company, $28,000 an hour. We haven't increased minimum wage in this country since 1997. We had a minimum wage in Washington, and they tied the estate tax to it. It's not about the working people when you tie those two types of legislation together.
Things are not getting better in this country. You know, we've got a president who marched us off to war with no plan. I'm a veteran. I served this country. But there is something wrong when you carry your soldiers into battle and won't give them the tools to fight with. Don't send these young men and women across the water to fight for our freedom in this country when you won't give them a gun to fight with and you won't give them a bullet-proof vest. Then when they come home, you don't want to give them what they deserve. That's wrong, ladies and gentlemen.
Apparently the Davis campaign people are less impressed. Josh Kraushaar reports on Politico's blog that Davis spokesman Alex Goepfert said, "There is a reason why Ron Sparks continues to lag way behind Artur Davis in every poll -- he has no core convictions, believes in nothing and as a result will say anything, and the last thing he ought to be is governor of Alabama."
And Sparks shot back:
I am seeking the Democratic nomination for Governor against another man who has abandoned the values that put him in Congress.
My opponent, voted against vital health care reform measures. He voted to protect the rights of credit card companies rather than the rights of Alabama families. He thumbs his nose at the democratic leaders of our state and panders to right wing power brokers and big business contributors. He draws more of his support from Manhattan than he does from main street Alabama.
Yes, it would be an honor to represent the people of the 5th Congressional District in Washington. It would be my honor to stand up against those who break their word and betray their supporters. But right now I think it's more important that I represent the people in the 5th Congressional district in Montgomery. My opponent is a man who breaks his word and betrays his supporters.
So it looks like a pretty ugly gubernatorial primary ahead. For what it's worth, Swing State Project blogger James L., who was the source of those 2007 Ron Sparks quotes, isn't much impressed with Sparks's gubenatorial campaign, and neither are his commenters. "It's difficult not to agree that Artur Davis is useless," James L. writes, "but I don't see why Sparks saw any upside in staying in such a fratricidal primary where he'll be severely outgunned financially. I think this move shaved a few years off of his political longevity."
As for AL-05, Politico's Josh Kraushaar reports: "Democrats are now looking at several other candidates, including Public Service Commissioner Susan Parker (who ran against GOP Sen. Jeff Sessions in 2002) and former state Supreme Court candidate Deborah Bell Paseur."
By way of background on Susan Parker, here is a March post, "Why Susan Parker Is Right for Alabama's Fifth District," from the blog Left in Alabama, which by the way our progressive friends on the ground in Alabama caution us isn't noticeably "left," being in fact pretty comfortably aligned with the Davis-DLC world view.