By Robert Carter
North Jefferson News
HOOVER — After bowing out of running again for his state Senate seat, Scott Beason is back in the political fray.
Beason filed late Friday afternoon to run for the Sixth District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, which is being vacated by the retiring Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Vestavia Hills).
Beason filed his papers at the Alabama Republican Party headquarters in Hoover at about 3:45 Friday, a little more than an hour before the deadline. He joins a crowded field of seven candidates which includes State Rep. Paul DeMarco (R-Homewood), the only one currently holding elected office.
Beason told reporters afterward that he had not made the final decision to enter the race until Friday morning.
“Leaving the Senate [race} kind of allowed me to clear my mind and focus on deciding about this race,” he said.
It's the second time the Gardendale conservative has run for Congress. Two years ago, Beason took on Bachus in the primary, along with two other challengers. All lost to the incumbent by a wide margin.
But Bachus' decision to bow out opened the field to a wide ranger of contenders. They include:
DeMarco, one of the top Republicans in the state legislature's lower chamber;
Will Brooke, an executive with Harbert Management Corporation in Birmingham;
Robert Shattuck, a Birmingham attorney;
Tom Vignuelle, a Pelham businessman;
Chad Mathis, a doctor from Indian Springs;
Gary Palmer, founder of the Alabama Policy Institute, a conservative think tank.
Of that group, Beason probably has the best name recognition of all, but some of that recognition comes with political baggage. Besides being an outspoken lightning rod for conservative causes such as illegal-immigration enforcement and opposition to Common Core education initiatives, he also gained fame for wearing a concealed recording device to aid federal prosecutors in their investigation of bribery and corruption among state lawmakers regarding the legalization of electronic-bingo gambling.
Beason said he's aware of some of the obstacles he's created for himself.
“I've dealt with issues and I've done what I think is right, but sometimes things happen in a career that don't go the way you want them to go,” he said.
Beason said that this race bears little resemblance to 2012, simply because there's no Bachus.
“I'm not running against a 20-year incumbent, and I think the mood of the country is different,” he said. “Any Republican who runs in Alabama is always going to support most of the same conservative values, so we're all going to say much the same thing. The difference, I believe, is that I have a proven record that I'm willing to push for those values and fight for those values, and actually make a change.”
Several of Beason's opponents already have a substantial head start in fund-raising. Brooke, who has strong ties to the Birmingham business community, has already raised more than $300,000.
“There's no doubt that there will be people in this race who have more money than I do, but no one is going to outwork me in this race,” Beason said.
When he spoke with The North Jefferson News after announcing he would not run for re-election to the District 17 seat, Beason expressed reservations about dealing with the Washington political culture. But after a week's passage of time, the political juices started simmering again.
“My passion my entire life has been trying to fix problems and stand up for the middle class, and I couldn't get that out of my blood,” Beason said. “I want to give 'normal people' a voice.... I joke sometimes that I may be the only person in the race that's been in a Walmart in the last six months.”
The Sixth District race wasn't the only one attracting a slew of candidates. Seven had filed to replace Beason in his state Senate seat. They include:
Joe Cochran, a member of the Pinson City Council;
Jim Murphree, an Oneonta businessman who ran against Beason in the 2010 GOP primary;
Shay Shelnutt, a Trussville businessman who's originally from Pinson;
Brett King, an attorney from Locust Fork;
Gayle H. Gear, a Birmingham attorney;
Adam Ritch, a consultant from Dora.
On the state House of Representatives side, both local representatives are unopposed. Allen Treadaway of Morris will retain his District 51 seat, while David Standridge of Hayden will earn his first full term in District 34. Allen Farley is also unopposed in District 15, but the redrawing of district boundaries after the last census puts him out of the north Jefferson area.
[Updated at 7:30 a.m. Monday to include state Senate andidate Jim Roberts, who filed his papers right at the deadline.]