1 Dem, 2 GOPers File for Special Election in HD 01
Tammy Irons was the only Democrat to file, making her the party's de facto nominee for the March 21 general election. Since Starkey's May announcement that he wouldn't seek re-election, Irons has successfully positioned herself as the frontrunner in the race. Though Starkey's unfortunate passing necessitated a special election, Irons seems to have maintained her status as the candidate to beat. Today's revelation that Irons has raised well over 3 times as much money as her once presumptive Republican opponent William E. Smith further cements Irons' status. The fundraising discrepancy is even more daunting when looking at cash-on-hand numbers -- 45K for Irons, 6K for Smith.
On the Republican side the process has not been as smooth. William E. Smith was initially the party's favorite after Starkey's initial announcement. But in the months between his entry and the death of the incumbent, Smith fell out of favor with the party leadership (see above fundraising numbers). Bob Riley even went so far as to actively recruit candidates to run against Smith in the special election primary. Though two high profile Republicans sought by Riley opted against the race, one surprise entrant did file.
John Hargett, the 1998 GOP nominee against State Sen Bobby Denton, has also decided to run as a Republican in the special election. Other than his unsuccessful race against Denton, I am not overly familiar with Hargett. He doesn't seem to be as strong Steve Pierce or Billy Jackson, (two of the local Republicans recruited by Riley), but his local GOP ties may give him a shot at defeating recent party switcher Smith in the primary.
This result has to be a disappointment to local and state Republicans who were optimistic about this seat when Starkey announced his retirement. However, Irons ability to coalesce Democrats behind her candidacy combined with the lack of a top-tier Republican candidate nearly ensure this district will remain in Democratic hands.