- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 3, 2014

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - State legislator Paul DeMarco and policy analyst Gary Palmer will meet in a runoff for the Republican nomination in Alabama’s 6th District, while three congressional incumbents cruised to easy wins Tuesday in other races.

Reps. Mike Rogers, Mo Brooks and Terri Sewell each swamped poorly financed challengers in other primary races.

But a runoff will decide the nominee in the 6th District, where each of seven candidates sought to portray himself as conservative and the most eager to fight President Barack Obama. In a campaign ad, one candidate even used a handgun, rifles and a wood-chipper to destroy a printed copy of Obama’s health care law.

DeMarco, a state representative from Homewood and the chair of the influential Judiciary Committee, held a double-digit lead over Palmer, the founder of the Alabama Policy Institute, with nearly all the votes counted. They are vying to succeed retiring Rep. Spencer Bachus.

But DeMarco still had only about 33 percent of the vote, well below the 50 percent threshold to avoid a runoff on July 15. Palmer had about 20 percent.

State Sen. Scott Beason of Gardendale, a tea party favorite, was among three candidates within a few percentage points of each other behind the leaders. Other contenders included Dr. Chad Mathis, an orthopedic surgeon competing with Beason for tea party votes; and business executive Will Brooke, who opened fire on a copy of “Obamacare.”

Mattress company owner Tom Vigneulle and retired attorney Rob Shattuck trailed badly.

Restaurant worker Jan Deason said she tried to pay attention to the GOP race but was put off by its tone.

“It makes me very tired and sick to hear all the mudslinging,” said Deason, of Helena.

The GOP winner will face the lone Democratic candidate, Avery Vise, on Nov. 4.

Composed of all or parts of six counties in central Alabama, the 6th District includes the heavily populated suburbs surrounding Birmingham and stretches into rural areas north and south of the metro area.

Bachus, the senior member of Alabama’s House delegation, announced last year he wouldn’t seek re-election after 11 terms. All his potential successors are from the Birmingham area.

In the 3rd District of east Alabama, Rogers, R-Anniston, defeated Thomas Casson of Auburn, a banker who worked on the staff of former Rep. Bob Riley, who later served two terms as governor. Jesse Smith is the only Democratic candidate.

Brooks, a Huntsville Republican who represents the 5th District of northern Alabama, beat Jerry Hill of Athens, a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War.

And Sewell, the lone black and the only Democratic member of Alabama’s congressional delegation, defeated Birmingham attorney Tamara Harris Johnson in the 7th District. The district includes the inner-city neighborhoods of Birmingham and Montgomery and much of the rural Black Belt of west Alabama.

No Democrat is running in the 5th District, and no Republican qualified in the 7th District.

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