- Associated Press - Sunday, October 26, 2014

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - Policy analyst Gary Palmer and college professor Mark Lester are vying to replace the longest-serving member of Alabama’s U.S. House delegation, but watching the returns isn’t likely to be dramatic on election night.

Running as a conservative Republican in an area that’s considered one of the nation’s most reliably GOP areas, Palmer is a heavy favorite to defeat the Democratic newcomer Lester and extend Republican control of central Alabama’s 6th District, the seat long held by the retiring Rep. Spencer Bachus.

Elsewhere in the state, Republican U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions isn’t opposed for a fourth six-year term and congressional incumbents face poorly funded challengers or don’t have any opposition at all on Nov. 4. A rundown:

-In District 1 of southwest Alabama, Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Mobile, is seeking his first full term after winning a special election to replace Jo Bonner, who resigned. He is opposed by Democratic real estate agent Burton R. LeFlore of Mobile, who Byrne defeated handily in the special election last year.

-In District 2 of southeast Alabama, Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, is opposed by Democratic businessman and former Troy University football player Erick Wright of Montgomery.

-In District 3, which covers east Alabama, Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Anniston, faces Democrat Jesse Smith, an Army veteran from Phenix City.

No Democrats are running against Republican Rep. Mo Brooks in the 5th District in the Tennessee Valley region or Rep. Robert Aderholt in the 4th District, which includes north central Alabama. No Republican qualified to oppose Democratic Rep. Terri Sewell in the 7th District of western Alabama.

In the 6th District, which includes heavily Republican areas around Birmingham and central Alabama, Palmer’s biggest fight came months ago.

State Rep. Paul DeMarco led a crowded field of Republicans seeking to succeed Bachus in the June primary, but Palmer then came from behind to defeat DeMarco in the runoff in July.

Palmer has not held elective office, but he founded the Alabama Policy Institute, a conservative think tank, more than two decades ago. He has stressed conservative-friendly themes like opposing President Barack Obama and reducing the national debt by spending cuts.

Lester, a longtime professor at Birmingham-Southern College, got into the race after the original Democratic nominee withdrew. He has campaigned on issues including reducing income inequality and trying to quell partisan rancor in Washington.


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