MOBILE, Alabama (Reuters) - Powerful Alabama Congressman Spencer Bachus, chair of the U.S. House committee overseeing financial regulation, faces a tough primary election on Tuesday in part because the veteran lawmaker is being investigated for possible insider trading.
While most attention has focused on the Republican presidential primary contests in Alabama and Mississippi on Tuesday, the two states also have an array of lower-level offices up for grabs.
Several Alabama incumbent Congressmen face tougher-than-expected challenges.
The most hotly contested race pits Bachus, a 10-term incumbent, against state Sen. Scott Beason, a chief architect of Alabama’s crackdown on illegal immigration.
Bachus’ long tenure recently has been marred by an Office of Congressional Ethics investigation over insider trading allegations. The incumbent has denied accusations that he timed personal financial decisions to capitalize on information collected while performing his congressional duties.
Congress recently passed a law forbidding insider trading by members of Congress after a “60 Minutes” news investigation raised questions about some of the dealings of members of Congress, including Bachus.
Bachus has faced an onslaught of aggressive campaign ads paid for by the Texas-based, anti-incumbent Campaign for Primary Accountability Super PAC, which on Beason’s behalf has called for voters to “Rock the Boat” and recognize the state senator as the “true conservative.”
Bachus has spent more than $1.5 million combating the attacks with ads of his own promoting his consistent opposition to Democratic President Barack Obama and his healthcare bill.
Republican U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner, who is seeking his sixth term, also faces stiff opposition in the primary election from businessman Dean Young in the state’s 1st District. Also backed by the Campaign for Primary Accountability, Young has attacked Bonner for supporting both the 2008 bailout of banks during the U.S. financial crisis, and the raising of the debt ceiling to allow the U.S. to borrow more money.
A third Congressional primary, the 5th District, features a rematch between Republican U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks and Parker Griffith, a former Democrat who lost the Republican primary to Brooks two years ago.
Alabama voters will consider three candidates seeking the Republican nomination for the state’s Supreme Court chief justice, a contest that features a man previously ousted from that office.
Roy Moore was famously booted from the chief justice post in 2003 for refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument from a state courthouse. He will square off against incumbent Chief Justice Chuck Malone and Charles Graddick, a circuit judge in Mobile and a former Alabama attorney general.
In Mississippi, incumbents have dwarfed their opponents in fundraising and name recognition in the congressional races.
Republican U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker faces two little-known challengers, and three Republican House members have opponents with Tea Party ties who say the incumbents are not conservative enough.
U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, who has represented the 2nd District for nearly two decades and is the lone Democrat in Mississippi’s congressional delegation, is opposed by former Greenville Mayor Heather McTeer. Thompson has largely ignored McTeer, who has campaigned with little financial support.
Additional reporting by Robbie Ward; Editing By Colleen Jenkins and Greg McCune