With the surprise resignation of Republican Rep. Jo Bonner to take a job with the University of Alabama, the stage is set for a special election in Alabama's 1st District later this year.
Bonner's resignation from the Mobile-based seat takes effect August 15, and the resulting primaries, run-offs, and special election will be set by Gov. Robert Bentley for sometime in the fall.
Although six candidates have so far signaled their intentions to run as Republicans, pols and prognosticators generally agree that the likeliest contenders to meet in a run-off are Bradley Byrne, former chancellor of the Alabama Community College System, and Quin Hillyer, journalist and conservative activist.
Their contest is a microcosm to the clashes that occur in Republican nomination battles nationwide. Byrne, 58, past chancellor of the Alabama Community College system and former state senator, is considered the favorite of the party's "establishment." In 2010, he lost the primary for governor to Bentley and had been pondering another race until Bonner's announced exit.
Hillyer, 49, was press secretary to former Louisiana Rep. Bob Livingston and has been involved with conservative causes and candidates since, as he puts it, "my mom pushed me around in a stroller with 'Goldwater for President' posters on it."
He has written scores of articles for publications ranging from the Wall Street Journal to the Mobile Register and is a frequent conservative pundit on TV and radio talk shows, Already Hillyer has won the backing of Rick Santorum and Citizens United.
About the best bet one can make in a district that last sent a Democrat to Congress in 1962 is that the next congressman will be decided in the Republican primary
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