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GOP Bullish in Two Alabama Districts

This cycle, it’s possible that the 2010 gubernatorial campaign of Rep. Artur Davis (D), who is black, may provide another bump when it comes to Democratic-leaning African-American turnout in the 2nd district next year.

But that may not be Republicans’ biggest problem when it comes to retaking the 2nd district.

Love got caught up in a nasty GOP primary fight last cycle with state Sen. Harri Anne Smith, and the conflict turned into a regional battle between the city of Montgomery and the rural southeast Wiregrass parts of the district. And though he emerged victorious from the primary, Love’s campaign had to start the general election from scratch financially. Meanwhile, Smith went on to endorse Bright, who, along with having served as mayor of Montgomery, has roots in the Wiregrass.

Love campaign manager Michael Lowry said that in 2010, district Republicans will have to set aside regional differences if they have any hope of knocking off Bright, who won by less than 2,000 votes in a district that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) won by 26 points in the presidential race.

“As close as it was during the 2008 cycle it’s likely to be that close again,” Lowry said. “In order for a Republican to prevail this time in the district, Republicans are going to have to unite behind one candidate early so that they can marshal the money and the resources that it’s going to take to beat Bobby Bright.”

Roby said her first priority since filing has been to work with state and national officials to try to stave off another primary battle.

“We’ve asked for as much help as we can to clear the field,” she said, noting that one GOP primary candidate from 2008, Montgomery-based state Rep. David Grimes, has pledged his support to her campaign.

Farther north in the 5th district, Republicans operatives say they are itching for another shot at Griffith, who they believe has serious personal failures that can be exploited on the campaign trail.

During Griffith’s 2008 campaign, the toughest attacks he faced from Republicans focused on his record from his days as a doctor at Huntsville Hospital. Republican nominee Wayne Parker, along with state and national groups, alleged that Griffith undertreated cancer patients while working as a radiation oncologist at the hospital in the mid-1980s in an effort to increase profits.

But Phillip said Parker lost the open-seat contest because he got too caught up in the nastiness of that 2008 campaign. He said he plans to offer voters a conservative alternative to Griffith rather than focusing on tearing down the Congressman.

“They ran a negative campaign too long,” Phillip said. “You just can’t be negative to be negative. That drives people into the other guy’s camp. And if he’s telling his story you’re going to lose. Which is what happened.”

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