Elections held in Alabama, Mississippi and New Mexico

Republican Roy Moore rode a horse to his polling place at the Gallant Volunteer Fire Department near Attalla, Ala.
Republican Roy Moore rode a horse to his polling place at the Gallant Volunteer Fire Department near Attalla, Ala. (Marc Golden/associated Press)
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By Chris Cillizza
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Alabama Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks trounced Rep. Artur Davis in the state's Democratic primary for governor Tuesday night, a shocking result for a national figure once regarded as a heavy favorite to be on the ballot in November.

Davis's insistence on opposing President Obama's agenda -- in a failed attempt to keep himself viable in a general election -- combined with his long-running feud with the state's unelected black leaders to chill his chances.

With 85 percent of precincts reporting, Sparks had 63 percent of the vote, while Davis had 37 percent.

As he conceded the race, Davis acknowledged, "This is not exactly the speech I'd planned to give tonight." The four-term congressman had hoped to become Alabama's first black governor, but the Birmingham News reported that he told his supporters Tuesday night, "A better champion will come along."

Sparks's opponent in November, to decide who will replace term-limited Gov. Bob Riley (R), will be decided in a July 13 runoff. The Republican primary was a remarkably close affair, with former state senator Bradley Byrne, businessman Tim James and state Rep. Robert Bentley all within 2 percentage points of each other.

In a closely watched House primary, Rep. Parker Griffith was on the verge of losing his first race as a Republican, after switching parties last year.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Madison County Commissioner Mo Brooks had a scant majority of the vote. Griffith, with 33 percent, was left to hope that he would close with enough votes to deny Brooks an outright victory and force a runoff.

The northern Alabama 5th Congressional District elected Griffith to the House as a Democrat, but he switched parties last year after receiving promises from House Republican leaders that they would back him.

He struggled, however, to convince Republican primary voters that he was one of them; he was battered over his vote for Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) as House Speaker at the start of the 111th Congress, for example.

In southern Alabama's 2nd District, Montgomery City Councilwoman Martha Roby, the preferred candidate of national Republicans, appeared headed to a runoff with tea party activist Rick Barber. Waiting in the general election is freshman Rep. Bobby Bright.

New Mexico, governor

Doña Ana County District Attorney Susana Martinez cruised to a victory in the GOP primary for governor, routing a crowded field that included free-spending former state party chairman Allen Weh.

The Republican Governors Association, who long believed Martinez was its best general-election candidate, helped steer campaign cash to her primary campaign to help her compete with Weh and cinch her victory.

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