Mask Whips Whorton
Whorton's baggage from two controversial terms on the Elmore County Commission was obviously just too heavy a burden to carry. Mask was unencumbered by such negative experience and was able to present himself as a fresh face to primary voters. Mask also was able to use his connections throughout the state to outraise Whorton by about a 3 to 1 ratio. Mask was financially supported by GOP House Leader Mike Hubbard and State Rep Cam Ward, as well as by several Montgomery based PACs. (Here's a link to the latest financial filings of both Mask and Whorton).
Mask will face Democrat and longtime Tallassee Mayor Bobby Payne in the Feb 28 general election. Payne has an appealing profile and has demonstrated a proven ability to win local elections. But HD 31 is a strongly Republican district and Payne will have to fight these underlying demographics to keep the district in Democratic hands.
Payne can expect support from legislative Democrats who are eager to prove that Dems can still win in areas like HD 31. Though Payne should not suffer from a lack of funds, Mask has already demonstrated his fundraising prowess. In addition to his connections through lobbying, Mask will also be the beneficiary of Republican money from throughout the state.
Even though the winner of the Feb 28 special election will have to immediately turn around and prepare for the November elections, the power of incumbency should give a boost to the special election winner.
The Feb 28 special should be a close race and both parties recognize the practical and symbolic importance of victory. This special election will be the opening salvo in the 2006 battle for control of the legislature.