Bachus Dodges Challenge
U.S. Representative Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) defeated three primary challengers to hold on to his party's nomination for his seat. Bachus is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and received support in his campaign from CUNA's Credit Union Legislative Action Council.
Media outlets reported that with more than 90% of the district's precincts reporting results, Bachus was ahead with between 59% and 60% of the vote compared to 27% for his nearest challenger, Scott Beason, a state legislator most well known for his role in crafting Alabama's law against illegal immigration.
"I'll do everything I can in this next Congress to make those of you who voted for me proud of that vote," Bachus told supporters when he declared victory on the night of March 13.
Bachus struggled with a number of different issues, including funding for his opponents from an anti-incumbent PAC and an investigation by the Office of Congressional Ethics into whether he used his office for personal gain. Bachus has denied the allegation.
Bachus faced a primary challenge from three other candidates, Beason of Gardendale, Ala., Blount County Probate Judge David Standridge and a pharmacist, Al Mickle.
Reports indicated that while no formal, independent polling had been done in the race, Bachus won a straw poll conducted on the eve of the election and partisan polls found Bachus stood well with the public generally, but his support dropped when details about the congressional investigation were shared with voters.
Bachus has run very strongly in both primaries and general elections, winning the 2010 general race with 98%.
In an endorsing editorial, The Birmingham News commented on what it judged to have a been a lackluster Bachus campaign so far.
“He has run a desultory campaign attacking President Barack Obama as a socialist rather than making much of a case for his own re-election,” the paper wrote and then noted that Office of Congressional Ethics investigation as well as Bachus support for the bank bailout, which was unpopular in his district.
The investigation, combined with Bachus' long tenure in the House, helped fuel the drive to replace him.
The primary race was noteworthy for the amount of money it drew. Bachus' had been targeted by a political action committee called the Campaign for Primary Accountability, a PAC that specializes in challenging incumbent politicians. Media outlets reported that the group had spent almost $170,000 on the race and was expected to spend more before election day, primarily on radio ads against Bachus.
Bachus has been known for saying good things about credit unions but has not sponsored the effort to raise the cap on member business loans. That has not prevented CULAC, the political action committee attached to CUNA, from spending at least $28,000 on radio ads in support of Bachus.
“Rep. Bachus has shown that he understands credit unions, the needs of credit unions and credit union issues,” explained Richard Gose, CUNA's senior vice president for political affairs, noting that his lack of endorsing MBL legislation didn't necessarily mean anything about his support for credit union issues. “Not everyone who endorses a CU bill is a friend, and not everyone who does not endorse a CU bill is an enemy,” Gose added.
Bachus, who has been the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee since last January, has already announced he will step down from the post at the end of the year.