2 House panel chairs from Ala. win primaries
BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—Two House committee chairmen on Tuesday staved off aggressive primary challenges in Alabama, while Mississippi's junior senator cruised to victory in his GOP primary contest.
In Alabama, U.S. Reps. Spencer Bachus and Jo Bonner won Republican primary races against multiple candidates.
Bachus, who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, faced questions about an Office of Congressional Ethics probe of his investment activities. Bonner, who heads the House ethics committee, was among five panel Republicans who withdrew from a long-standing investigation of a Democratic congresswoman amid questions about their impartiality.
In neighboring Mississippi, Republican Sen. Roger Wicker defeated two GOP primary opponents and will face Albert N. Gore Jr., the winner of a three-way Democratic primary.
Bachus and Bonner were targeted by the Campaign for Primary Accountability, a Texas-based super PAC that seeks to unseat incumbents.
Bachus faced ethics questions. The independent Office of Congressional Ethics is investigating Bachus' investment activities during the events leading up to and surrounding Congress' $700 billion bailout of Wall Street.
But Bachus easily defeated a well-known state senator and two other challengers following the incumbent's toughest primary fight in years. Bachus said his vote total was "stronger than we almost thought was possible."
"It's been a rough time for the family," he said. ""We're glad we put it behind us."
The 10-term Republican was receiving about three-fifths of the vote, with more than 80 percent of precincts reporting. His closest competitor was state Sen. Scott Beason, who got about one-fourth of the vote. Beason gained nationwide attention for sponsoring Alabama's toughest-in-the-nation law against illegal immigration.
Richard Leonard, 55, of Clanton, called Beason a "troublemaker" and said he backed Bachus, who he considers a friend.
"I don't believe most of the stuff that's been said about him," said Leonard.
In November, Bachus will face Penny Huggins Bailey, a retired Air Force colonel who won the Democratic primary.
In another closely watched Alabama contest, Bonner won the Republican primary in his southwest congressional district, a race that's tantamount to re-election.
Bonner won by a 2-1 margin over his closest competitor, with about 90 percent of the vote tallied.
In other contested Alabama primaries, state Rep. Daniel Boman won the Democratic contest to run against eight-term Republican U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt; first-term U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks won his 5th District GOP primary race against Dr. Parker Griffith, a former Democrat whom Brooks unseated two years ago.; and Selma businessman Don Chamberlain won the Republican primary to run against first-term U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, Alabama's only Democrat and only black in Congress.
Aderholt, Sewell and Republican U.S. Reps. Mike Rogers and Martha Roby didn't have any primary opposition.
Brooks, Roby and Rogers will have Democratic opponents in November.
In neighboring Mississippi, Wicker and the state's four U.S. House members breezed to victory in their party primaries, setting up races in November in which each will be heavily favored.
Wicker was appointed to the Senate in 2007 by then-Gov. Haley Barbour after fellow Republican Trent Lott stepped down, and then won a 2008 special election.
Republican U.S. Reps. Alan Nunnelee, Steven Palazzo and Gregg Harper all survived primary challenges. Meanwhile, Democratic U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson defeated former Greenville Mayor Heather McTeer.
Associated Press writers Andy Brownfield in Clanton, Ala., and Emily Wagster Pettus and Jeff Amy in Jackson contributed to this report.