Alabama: Spencer Bachus Holds On to Avoid Runoff

(Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Posted March 13, 2012 at 11:26pm

House Financial Services Chairman Spencer Bachus held on to victory in tonight’s GOP primary in Alabama’s 6th district, clinching the nomination outright and avoiding a runoff after heavily outspending his most serious challenger.

Bachus led state Sen. Scott Beason 58.5 percent to 27 percent, with 79 percent of precincts reporting. Four other candidates were also on the GOP primary ballot. To avoid a runoff, a candidate has to get more than 50 percent of ballots cast.

Bachus’ campaign doled out about $752,000 in expenditures from Jan. 1 to Feb. 22, according to Federal Election Commission records. Beason, who challenged the powerful chairman on his ethics and ran to his right, spent just $37,000 during the same period.

But Beason was aided by the Campaign for Primary Accountability, an outside super PAC that aired anti-Bachus TV ads. The organization helped support a primary challenger to Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio), who lost in an upset last week, but its two television ads in Bachus’ Birmingham-area district didn’t dent him enough to cause a runoff.

Bachus is under investigation by the Office of Congressional Ethics for potential violations of insider trading laws. He took a hard public relations hit when a November “60 Minutes” investigation noted he had made money on trades during the 2008 financial crisis. He has also taken heat for his vote in favor of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, also known as the bank bailout.

In other election results today, incumbents across the Deep South escaped primaries unscathed.

GOP Reps. Jo Bonner (Ala.), Mo Brooks (Ala.) and Alan Nunnelee (Miss.) all avoided a runoff with primary opponents of varying levels of seriousness. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) also dispatched a primary opponent in his Delta-based district.