Cramer Move Gives GOP a Ray of Hope
Currently in his 9th term in the House, Cramer represents a seat that leans strongly to the GOP. The Hunstville-based 5th district, which occupies the northern sliver of the state, gave President Bush 60 percent of the vote in 2004. And while the seat has never elected a Republican to Congress, Cramer is a throwback Democrat who has been able to survive there mainly by amassing a generally conservative voting record.
"In a district that has been a stronghold for Republican presidential candidates for many years, we clearly view this seat as a potential pickup opportunity," said National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Ken Spain. "The recruitment process has already begun and we look forward to competing for the seat in the fall."
Democrats acknowledge the seat is tough, but they believe the fact that they have fewer seats to defend and more money to spend will help balance the field.
"We anticipate a competitive race but are confident we will hold the seat," said Doug Thornell, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Cramer is only the third House Democrat to announce his retirement this cycle, compared to 21 Republicans who have done so. (Another three Democrats and three Republicans are running for other office.) The filing deadline in Alabama is April 4, giving candidates who had not expected this seat to be open three weeks to decide whether to jump in the race. GOP lawyer Ray McKee is already running, though he hasn't raised much money so far.
In a cycle when almost nothing has broken Republicans' way, Cramer's retirement provides the GOP with a real pickup opportunity, especially in a presidential year. Now if the GOP could just get a dozen more retirements like this, the minority might actually have something to smile about in November.
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