Republican former state Sen. Bradley Byrne will announce on Tuesday that he will run in Alabama’s 1 st District special election, according to local reports.
Alabama GOP consultants called Byrne the front-runner in what’s shaping up to be a crowded 1st District GOP primary to replace longtime Republican Rep. Jo Bonner. Bonner announced in May that he will resign from his seat in Congress later this year to take a job in the University of Alabama system.
Byrne would not confirm whether he is seeking the seat, but he told CQ Roll Call that he will hold a news conference in Mobile at 2 p.m. Tuesday to address both the special election and the 2014 gubernatorial race in the state.
Byrne served in the state Senate from 2003 until 2007, when he left to be chancellor of the Alabama Community College System. He resigned as chancellor in 2009 to run for governor the next year, but he lost the GOP primary to current Gov. Robert Bentley.
Byrne currently works as an attorney in Mobile.
Operatives say Byrne will now lead the pack in the race, after Mobile County Sheriff Sam Cochran decided against a run. Other candidates who GOP consultants say are seriously looking at the seat include state Sens. Trip Pittman and Bill Hightower.
Conservative columnist Quin Hillyer has already announced that he is running in the Republican primary. Hillyer received an endorsement from former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.
A date for the special election has yet to be set. Bentley will call a race once Bonner officially resigns from Congress in August.
The 1st District is a safe Republican seat. GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney carried the district with 62 percent in 2012.