The Washington Times - March 12, 2010, 12:47PM

Mid-term election season is well under way, and 2010 is likely to be a remarkable year for a number of statewide elections with challengers taking on incumbents sitting in Capitol Hill offices and Governor seats across the country. The Water Cooler will begin a weekly round-up of some these races and other stories relating to the elections happening around the nation, so be sure to stop by and check out who may be running for office in your state.

This Week: Alabama’s Rick Barber, Arkansas’ Tim Griffin, Florida’s Allen West

(AL-02) Rick Barber Mr. Barber, a TEA party activist from Montgomery, Alabama, served in the U.S. Marine Corps and worked his way up to from being Senior Systems Engineer at a small business almost a decade ago to becoming a Corporate Vice President at one of the largest and most successful technology firms in Alabama. Mr. Barber is the Republican candidate who will be taking on freshman Democrat Bobby Bright. Mr. Bright is among the number of Democrats in the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi needs to convince to support the Senate health care legislation. Mr. Bright may have to stick to his guns on this unpopular piece of healthcare legislation. His conservative district appears to poll well for him at the moment, but if he changes his mind and votes for his party’s bill, things could flip very quickly in November for him.

(AR - 02) Tim Griffin: Tim Griffin is a former U.S. Attorney running in the 2nd Congressional District of Arkansas. In terms of of fundraising for a primary race, he has a huge head start over another Republican challenger. Before the Democrat incumbent Vic Snyder announced his retirement back in January, Mr. Griffin was in a dead-heat race with the current seat holder. As of now, five Democrats are having it out in a primary of their own to see who will be their congressional candidate for the second district in the fall.

(FL - 22) Allen West: Lieutenant Colonel Allen West (US Army, Retired) has built quite a following not just among Florida Republicans but movement conservatives across state lines. This is likely due to Colonel West’s 2003 interrogation and later bold defense of his handling of a detainee in Iraq who initially refused to give up information regarding roadside bomb attacks. Colonel West will be taking on Democrat incumbent Ron Klein, who he faced back in 2008 and lost by double digits. However, better GOP candidate name recognition, a larger war chest for Colonel West, and President Barack Obama’s and Congress’ diving poll numbers, is likely to make this race very different from 2008.