Crimson Tide: Two Tea Party Candidates Vie for GOP Nod in Alabama’s 1st C.D.?

Two Tea Party-friendly Republicans may soon vie for a safe GOP House seat in Alabama in a contest that could foreshadow 2014 GOP nomination battles.

The vacancy will occur in Alabama’s solidly Republican 1st congressional district in the southwest corner of the state. Since 2003 it has been represented by Rep. Jo Bonner, a moderate Republican. Bonner announced last week he’s leaving Aug. 15 to become the University of Alabama System’s vice chancellor of government relations and economic development.

The two Tea Party contenders are journalist Quin Hillyer (who declared he’s running) and Alabama state representative Chad Fincher (who hasn’t yet decided).

Fincher, a member of the Alabama House Ways and Means Committee, told me in an interview that he will probably make a decision in the coming week.

“I definitely relate to the Tea Party movement,” he said. “I want to have that conservative voice that we desperately need” in Washington. “I want to have someone who pays taxes and has to meet a payroll.”

In addition to his legislative duties, Fincher is a broker/agent at Fincher & Associates Realty Services in Semmes.

Longtime conservative journalist Quin Hillyer announced his candidacy May 23 in a farewell post at the American Spectator website.

“I am a constitutional conservative—and an ‘opportunity society’ conservative as well, hearkening back to the Reagan-Kemp era of prosperity and liberty … Readers of this site know I am a full spectrum conservative. Mostly libertarian on economics, firmly for a strong defense, and for traditional values.”

Social conservative and former presidential candidate Rick Santorum has endorsed Hillyer.

The field for the soon-to-be-open seat may get crowded.

Other possible candidates for the GOP nod include state senators Trip Pittman, Bill Hightower, and Rusty Glover. Former state senator Bradley Byrne, a Republican establishment figure who ran for governor in 2010, could also throw his hat in the ring.