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Updated Jan. 13, 2010
This is the first district in the first state in the alphabet. That's about the most exciting thing you could say about Bonner's previous elections since he first won the House seat in this south Alabama Republican stronghold in 2002. After topping 60 percent in three progressively easier general elections, Bonner ran without a Democratic opponent in 2008 -- a year in which Republican presidential nominee John McCain took 61 percent of the 1st District vote.
But in one-sided partisan districts such as this, the most likely arena for competition is in the majority party's primary, and it looks like Bonner has drawn some for his June contest. Real estate developer Peter Gounares, who is accusing Bonner of going Washington and losing touch with his district, had launched a primary challenge. Clint Moser, a conservative activist, is also seeking the GOP nomination.
But for district residents who favor congressional experience as a criterion for voting, Bonner will have a solid claim on their votes. He was a longtime top aide to 1st District Republican Rep. Sonny Callahan, then won the seat when his boss retired in 2002 -- winning a competitive primary over Tom Young, chief of staff to Alabama Republican Sen. Richard C. Shelby.
District Profile from Politics in America
Mobile anchors the solidly GOP 1st, Alabama's only Gulf Coast district. The beaches of southern Mobile County and resorts in Baldwin County give way to pine forests and cotton and soybean fields to the north. The coastal counties suffered environmental and economic loss as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 -- oil and tar polluted the beaches, and the gulf's recreational and commercial fishing industries shut down for months.
The shipping and manufacturing industries in Mobile remain strong. ST Mobile Aerospace Engineering converts planes for FedEx at its Mobile facility. International Shipholding relocated from New Orleans in 2007, and the city's port capacity continues to expand. Austal USA -- the county's largest industrial employer -- is building naval combat ships at its Mobile shipyard. Other industrial expansion in the district includes a new ThyssenKrupp steel manufacturing plant in Calvert 30 miles north of Mobile.
Following the oil-spill-based hit to Baldwin County's tourism sector, the coastal county continues to rely on farming -- sod, peanut and wheat dominate its agricultural economy. Development in the district's eastern reaches includes a gaming and entertainment establishment in Escambia County, where Wind Creek Casino and Hotel opened in January 2009.
Rural Monroe County relies on timber production and manufacturing, while Washington County, west of the Tombigbee River, is home to several major chemical plants.
The shift to GOP voting seen in much of the South took root early in Alabama's 1st. Republicans have held the U.S. House seat since 1965, and the district has overwhelmingly favored Republican presidential candidates for decades. In 2010, Gov. Robert Bentley won every county that falls wholly or partly within the 1st.
Commercial shipping, aerospace, timber, distribution, agriculture
Mobile, 195,111; Prichard, 22,659; Daphne, 21,570
Author Harper Lee based the fictional setting of "To Kill a Mockingbird" on her hometown of Monroeville.
|2010||general||Jo Bonner (R)||129,063||82.6%|
|David Walter (CNSTP)||26,357||16.9%|
|2008||general||Jo Bonner (R)||210,652||98.3%|
|2006||general||Jo Bonner (R)||112,944||68.1%|
|Vivian Beckerle (D)||52,770||31.8%|
|2004||general||Jo Bonner (R)||161,067||63.1%|
|Judy Belk (D)||93,938||36.8%|
|2002||general||Jo Bonner (R)||108,102||60.5%|
|Judy Belk (D)||67,507||37.8%|
|Richard Coffee (LIBERT)||2,957||1.7%|
|2008||Barack Obama: 38%||John McCain: 61%|
|2004||John Kerry: 35%||George W. Bush: 64%|
|2000||Al Gore: 37%||George W. Bush: 60%|