Sparks Ignites Democratic Primary for Alabama Governor

Posted April 3, 2009 at 4:20pm

After some fits and starts, Alabama Democrats now have a contested June 2010 primary for governor on their hands.

CQ Photo
Ron Sparks (r) with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack

Ron Sparks , the state’s commissioner of Agriculture, announced Friday that he will run to succeed Republican Bob Riley , who has hit the state’s two-term limit for governor. His announcement came just two days after Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom stated he would not join the Democratic field, already occupied by Rep. Artur Davis .

Sparks thus provides the only major competition so far to Davis, who has gained some national attention as he bids to become the first African-American governor of the Deep South state. Davis, who officially entered the contest in February, had strongly indicated his interest last November — shortly after he won his fourth term in the 7th Congressional District, and after political ally Barack Obama was elected as the nation’s first black president.