It appears there will be at least three candidates running as Democrats for the new seat held by U.S. Rep. Parker Griffith. Steve Raby, a political consultant and longtime Congressional insider, will run for Griffith’s seat. Taze Shepard, a Huntsville lawyer and the grandson of Senator John Sparkman, and Mitchell J. Howie, a Huntsville lawyer, will also run for the seat.
Steve Raby served as the chief of staff to the late U.S. Senator Howell Heflin, D-Tuscumbia. Even though this will be his first run for elected office. I believe Raby will be a very strong candidate. Raby, who worked with Senator Heflin from 1983 to 1997, is the owner of Direct Communications, a public relations firm that deals with economic development and political campaigns. Based on conversations with folks in the Tennessee Valley area, Steve is very popular and may well be the leading candidate to replace Griffith.
Taze Shepard formally announced his candidacy on February 10th at his law office in Huntsville. Taze held elected office as North Alabama’s representative on the state school board. From all accounts, he too will be a strong candidate. Mitchell Howie, who also is a first-time candidate, served as a lawyer in the Judge Advocate General Corps in the U.S. Air Force. In August, after completing his active duty, he and his wife moved from Texas to Huntsville where Howie now practices law. I really don’t know how strong Howie will be, but time will tell if he will be able to mount a strong campaign.
The deadline for entering the primary is April 2nd. Meanwhile, on the Republican side, Parker Griffith faces very strong challenges from Madison County Commissioner Mo Brooks and Madison businessman Les Phillip. The incumbent could easily wind up as the third man in that race based on early reports from the district. The word on the street is that many “real Republicans” aren’t too happy with Griffith and are looking for a replacement. In fact the GOP actually sent out an attack letter telling folks how bad Griffith has been in Congress. That’s not much of an endorsement for the party-switcher!