Special Election Set in HD 01
Filing Deadline: January 6
Primary: February 14
Runoff/General: March 21
General (if runoff was necessary): April 25
Since Starkey had previously announced his intention to retire at the end of his current term, the race to replace him was already well under way. And while many such open seat races would have attracted a slew of ambitious candidates, only two have officially announced plans to run to follow the longtime legislator.
During the early grappling to succeed Starkey, Florence attorney Tammy Irons (D) has emerged as the frontrunner. Though the city of Florence and Lauderdale county have been historically Democratic (the district voted for Siegelman over Riley in 2002), Irons has thus far been successful in deterring primary competition. Tammy Irons is a cousin of Florence mayor Bobby Irons and was instrumental in the efforts leading to his recent election. In addition to backers of the mayor, Irons also has much of the local support of the Starkey organization.
The only candidate that has come forward to challenge Irons is attorney William E. Smith. Montgomery Republicans had high hopes for Smith, a recent transfer to the GOP, but that early optimism has turned sour in the months since Starkey's retirement announcement. Smith's campaign has not taken off the way Republicans had hoped.
Of course now that a special election is under way additional candidates could join the race. Perhaps a candidate who was not inclined to run in the marathon campaign required for the open seat race would be enticed to make the special election sprint. But given Irons' and Smith's head start, it is doubtful that other strong candidates will emerge.
If Smith and Irons are indeed the only candidates to file, primaries would not need to be held. In that case, the general election would be held on March 21. This schedule would give the winner of that election a small window of activity during the legislative session. And certainly the winner of the special election would have to be favored to hold the seat during the 2006 legislative elections.
Though Smith has indicated he will run in November no matter what the special election outcome, the smart money is on Tammy Irons to represent House District 01 for the foreseeable future.