In a surprise move Thursday, Republican Rep. Jo Bonner of Alabama announced he would resign from Congress after a decade to become Vice-chancellor for Government Relations of the University of Alabama.
Bonner's exodus makes him the second sitting Member of Congress to resign this year and the latest in a string of lawmakers who leave office early for lucrative private sector jobs (the most recent was Missouri's Republican Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, who resigned in January to take over the Rural Electric Cooperative Association).
Bonner had been press secretary and then top aide to popular Republican Rep. Sonny Callahan and, with Callahan's blessing, his succession to the seat in '02 was almost a foregone conclusion.
But his own succession in the Mobile-based 1st District is not so clear.
Potential GOP candidates for Bonner’s seat include state Sens. Bill Hightower and Trip Pittman and 2010 gubernatorial candidate Bradley Byrne, who lost a runoff to Gov. Robert Bentley.
About the safest thing one can say is that, in a district that has sent a Republican to Congress since 1964, the successor will almost certainly represent the GOP. The Democrats haven't even fielded a candidate against Bonner in the last three general elections.
Bonner will formally resign August 15 and Bentley will set the date for the resulting special election.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax
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