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Bachus Propping Up Primary Campaign With Big Bank Cash

In addition to Presidential primaries in Alabama and Mississippi today, there are primary elections for Congress as well. We saw in Ohio with Jean Schmidt that incumbents are in no way safe in what feels like an anti-incumbent environment. And a new SuperPAC devoted to beating incumbents has a few more races in their sights today. One of them involves the powerful chair of the House Financial Services Committee, Spencer Bachus.

But more suspenseful action might take place in two deep-red districts in Alabama, one held by Rep. Jo Bonner — the other by Rep. Spencer Bachus, who has been at the center of recent controversies involving alleged insider trading by members of Congress.

Bonner and Bachus are also being opposed [by] a group that TPM has profiled before: the Campaign for Primary Accountability. The group was founded by two conservative activists with the goal of taking on incumbents in both parties’ primaries, which tend to have low turnout, in districts where one party or the other is usually guaranteed a win in November.

“They are in one-party districts, their districts are dominated by the Republican Party in this case, so the November election is a foregone conclusion. The election that matters here is the primary election,” said spokesman Curtis Ellis. “They have credible primary challengers. There is somebody on the ballot – in Mr. Bachus’s case, there are a couple of people on the ballot who would be capable of doing the job if they were elected. And our polling shows these incumbents aren’t particularly popular, that people are ready for a change. So that’s why we picked them.”

The Campaign for Primary Accountability has an ad running against Bachus, hitting him for his vote for the bailout, fundraising from the financial industry and the damaging insider trading story, where it appears that Bachus personally profited from his position in Congress. At the top of the ad, it references “a magnitude of TV ads financed by his Wall Street buddies.” And indeed, as Pat Garofalo notes, Bachus has gone to the banks to save him from a primary defeat:

But Bachus has received a little last minute help, courtesy of the financial firms he thinks its his duty to assist:

Bachus’s coffers have been filled by a long list of financial firms whose interests are affected by the congressman’s committee. Over the past several days alone, he’s received donations from the likes of Citigroup, Barclays and RBS.

Almost half of Bachus’ fundraising this cycle comes from the finance sector. And despite all this, despite spending more than $1.6 million on his campaign, 45 times more than his primary opponent, state Sen. Scott Beason, Politico notes that he could still be in some trouble for re-election.

If Beason and the other candidates in the field can hold Bachus under 50%, it triggers a runoff in April. So this might not get settled tonight.

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David Dayen

David Dayen

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