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Updated Jan. 13, 2010
Aderholt, a conservative Republican from one of the nation's most conservative and Republican-voting districts, appears a shoo-in this year, as he has throughout most of his congressional career.
A lawyer, Aderholt was in his fourth year as a municipal judge when he ran in 1996 for the House seat that veteran Democratic Rep. Tom Bevill left open to retire. Like many Southern seats long held by old-school conservative Democrats such as Bevill, the open seat was a pickup opportunity for the Republicans. But victory didn't come easy for Aderholt, who took 50 percent of the vote to beat the Democratic nominee, former state Sen. Bob Wilson Jr., by 2 points.
That, however, was Aderholt's last seriously competitive race. In 2008, he was elected to a seventh term with 75 percent, while Republican presidential nominee John McCain took 76 percent, one of his best showings in any of the nation's 435 districts.
Aderholt combines a strongly conservative House voting record with a sharp eye for millions of dollars in federal funds that he has been able to steer to his district as a member of the Appropriations Committee.
District Profile from Politics in America
Taking in mountains, foothills, flatlands and large waterways, the rural 4th runs the width of the state, bordering both Mississippi and Georgia. A small black population and the absence of a major city distinguish the relatively poor district from the rest of Alabama.
The 4th relies on assistance from the Appalachian Regional Commission, a decades-old federal-state partnership to aid development and reduce poverty in the area. Completion of "Corridor X," an interstate route following U.S. 78 across the 4th from Mississippi, is a priority of the commission and of local officials, who hope the route will attract new midsize businesses. Many local residents work in nearby metropolitan areas, such as Huntsville (in the 5th) and Birmingham (in the 6th and 7th).
Textiles, mining and rubber, and other manufacturing are still major job sources here despite volatility in the coal market and the loss of some manufacturing and textile jobs abroad. The industrial sector has diversified beyond steel and textiles to include food processing and wood products. The Tennessee Valley Authority's Guntersville Reservoir, shared with the 5th, supports a shipping-based economy in Guntersville. Gadsden, the district's only sizable city, has had some success with economic diversification efforts following manufacturing plant closures.
Agri-businesses, especially cattle and poultry enterprises, form a significant sector of the local economy. The mountainous landscape provides opportunities for outdoor recreation. Smith Lake -- a 21,000-acre man-made body of water shared by Cullman, Walker and Winston counties -- lures visitors to the 4th.
Once a Democratic stronghold, the 4th's conservative population now supports the GOP at all levels. In 1996, voters sent a Republican to Congress for just the second time since Reconstruction, and GOP Rep. Robert B. Aderholt has won re-election easily since. In 2010, Republican Gov. Robert Bentley took every county wholly or partly in the 4th.
Manufacturing, textiles, mining, agriculture, tourism
Gadsden, 36,856; Albertville, 21,160; Cullman, 14,775; Jasper, 14,352
Formerly dry Cullman County serves non-alcoholic beverages, including one called "Oktoberzest," at its annual Oktoberfest celebration.
|2010||general||Robert Aderholt (R)||167,714||98.8%|
|2008||general||Robert Aderholt (R)||196,741||74.8%|
|Nicholas Sparks (D)||66,077||25.1%|
|2006||general||Robert Aderholt (R)||128,484||70.2%|
|Barbara Bobo (D)||54,382||29.7%|
|2004||general||Robert Aderholt (R)||191,110||74.7%|
|Carl Cole (D)||64,278||25.1%|
|2002||general||Robert Aderholt (R)||139,705||86.7%|
|Tony McLendon (LIBERT)||20,858||13%|
|2008||Barack Obama: 22%||John McCain: 76%|
|2004||John Kerry: 28%||George W. Bush: 71%|
|2000||Al Gore: 37%||George W. Bush: 61%|