Griffith made no mention of his party affiliation in his press release announcing his campaign kickoff, instead calling himself an “independent, effective representative for North Alabama.”
“I am running for Congress because the people of North Alabama need a strong, independent voice who will stand up for our values in Washington,” said Griffith. “I promise to fight for Alabama’s families and carry on Congressman Cramer’s proud tradition of effective, independent representation for our district.”
Griffith appears to be the frontrunner to win the Democratic nomination. One other potentially strong candidate, Public Service Commissioner Susan Parker, announced today she would not be running.
Griffith, who established the first comprehensive Cancer Center in North Alabama, may also be able to partially self-fund a campaign. He represents the Huntsville area in the state senate, which is the population base of the northern Alabama district.
Republicans view Cramer’s Fifth District seat as one of their top pickup opportunities, given its tendency to vote Republican at the presidential level. President Bush won 60 percent of the district-wide vote in 2004.
One of their prospective GOP candidates is Democratic state senator Tom Butler, who is considering changing his party affiliation to run for the race. He told Politico that Republican governor Bob Riley contacted him soon after Cramer’s retirement announcement, encouraging him to run as a Republican.
Butler, who is pro-life, said he will likely be making a decision this weekend.
“I’m what Bud Cramer would classify as a Blue Dog Democrat. I probably was a Blue Dog Democrat before it was popular to be a Blue Dog Democrat,” said Butler. “I’m seriously looking at my own personal philosophy where it lines up with the national parties.’