Alabama's 5th congressional district: Wikis

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Alabama's 5th congressional district
Alabama5th.png
Current Representative Parker Griffith (R)
Area 4,689 mi²
Distribution 59.4% urban, 40.6% rural
Population (2000) 635,300
Median income $38,054
Ethnicity 77.7% White, 16.9% Black, 1% Asian, 2% Hispanic, 0.9% Native American, 1.5% other
Occupation 29.6% blue collar, 57.1% white collar, 13.3% gray collar
Cook PVI R+12

Alabama's Fifth Congressional District is a U.S. congressional district in Alabama, which elects a representative to the United States House of Representatives. It encompasses the counties of Colbert, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison and Jackson. It also includes parts of Morgan County.

It is currently represented by Republican Parker Griffith who was elected in 2008 as a Democrat following the retirement of former Rep. Bud Cramer (D), but announced on December 22, 2009 that he would switch parties to become a Republican.

Contents

Character

The political character of the 5th District has long been dominated by the presence of the Tennessee Valley Authority, with eight hydroelectric plants in the district, such as Wheeler Dam (pictured)

Two major economic projects have lastingly impacted the 5th District and have indelibly dictated the politics of North Alabama for most of the 20th Century. Before 1933, the Northern Alabama counties were characteristically poor, white and rural. The Tennessee Valley Authority's (TVA) arrival changed much of that, slowly transforming the demographic towards technical and engineering employees. The second major project was the space and rocketry programs including Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville where the first large U.S. Ballistic missiles were developed. Additionally, NASA built the Marshall Space Flight Center in the Huntsville-Decatur area during the 1960s. In the late 1950s Northern Alabama came to be dominated by the high-tech and engineering industries, a trend which has continued up to the present. In recent years, the United Launch Alliance has located its research center in Decatur. As a result, Huntsville has become the third largest and fastest growing metropolitan area in Alabama.

Thus the politics of the 5th District have been dominated over the past 70 or so years by liberal economics and disinterest in social issues - the hallmarks of the New Deal Democratic tradition in Northern Alabama. Every successful candidate for the seat since the 1930s has been most interested in garnering government contracts and continued financial support for federal programs in the region.

However, the Democratic stranglehold on this district has slowly loosened over the past two decades as Alabama's growing social conservatism has gained a foothold in this district as well. As such, liberal politics have become an increasingly hard sell. The district hasn't supported a Democrat for president since Jimmy Carter's successful run in 1976. Democrats, however, still hold most offices at the local level, as well as most of the district's seats in the Alabama state legislature. In the mid-1990s it was a seriously contested seat, with longtime incumbent Bud Cramer (D) winning reelection by only 1,770 votes in 1994. However, Cramer was elected five more times with 70% of the vote or more of the vote, and even ran unopposed in the Democratic landslide year of 2006. Cramer did not seek reelection in 2008. Parker Griffith, a retired oncologist and State Senator, won the open seat in November 2008. However, in December 2009, Griffith became a Republican. Until Griffith's switch, the district had been one of the last in the former Confederacy to have not been held by a Republican to the U.S. Congress since Reconstruction.

George W. Bush won 60% of the vote in this district in 2004. John McCain also carried the 5th District in 2008 with 60.91% of the vote while Barack Obama received 37.99%.

List of representatives

A graphical representation of party control of Alabama's 5th Congressional District
Congress Years Representative Party Notes
District created March 4, 1833
23rd March 4, 1833 - March 3, 1835 John Murphy Jacksonian
24th March 4, 1835 - March 3, 1837 Francis Strother Lyon Anti-Jacksonian
25th March 4, 1837 - March 3, 1839 Whig
26th March 4, 1839 - March 3, 1841 James Dellet
27th District inactive, all representatives elected At-large on a general ticket
28th-30th March 4, 1843 - March 4, 1849 George S. Houston Democratic Redistricted from the At-large district
31st March 4, 1849 - March 3, 1851 David Hubbard
32nd-36th March 4, 1851 - January 21, 1861 George S. Houston Withdrew
37th-39th (1861-1868) Civil War and Reconstruction
40th July 21, 1868 - March 3, 1869 John Benton Callis Republican
41st-42nd March 4, 1869 - March 3, 1873 Peter Myndert Dox Democratic
43rd-44th March 4, 1873 - March 3, 1877 John Henry Caldwell
45th March 4, 1877 - March 3, 1879 Robert Fulwood Ligon
46th-48th March 4, 1879 - March 3, 1885 Thomas Williams
49th March 4, 1885 - March 3, 1887 Thomas William Sadler
50th-54th March 4, 1887 - April 21, 1896 James E. Cobb Lost contested election
54th April 21, 1896 - March 3, 1897 Albert Taylor Goodwyn Populist Won contested election
55th-56th March 4, 1897 - March 3, 1901 Willis Brewer Democratic
57th-58th March 4, 1901 - March 20, 1904 Charles Winston Thompson Died
58th-66th May 19, 1904 - November 1, 1920 J. Thomas Heflin Resigned to fill US Senate seat
66th-70th December 14, 1920 - August 16, 1928 William B. Bowling Resigned after being appointed judge for 5th Alabama Circuit
70th-71st Nobvember 6, 1928 - March 3, 1933 LaFayette L. Patterson
73rd March 3, 1933 - January 3, 1935 Miles C. Allgood
74th-78th January 3, 1935 - January 3, 1945 Joe Starnes
79th-87th January 3, 1945 - January 3, 1963 Albert Rains Redistricted to the At-large district
88th January 3, 1963 - January 3, 1965 District inactive, all representatives elected At-large on a general ticket
89th-91st January 3, 1965 - January 3, 1969 Armistead I. Selden, Jr. Democratic Redistricted from the At-large district
92nd January 3, 1969 - January 3, 1973 Walter Flowers Redistricted to the 7th district
93rd-94th January 3, 1973 - January 3, 1977 Robert E. Jones, Jr. Redistricted from the 8th district
95th-101st January 3, 1977 - January 3, 1991 Ronnie G. Flippo
102nd-110th January 3, 1991 - January 3, 2009 Bud Cramer
111th January 3, 2009 - January 22, 2009 Parker Griffith Switched parties
January 22, 2009 - Present Republican

Election results

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2004

Party Candidate Votes  %
  Democratic Party Robert E. Cramer 200,999 73.1
  Republican Party Gerry Wallace 74,145 26.9

2006

Party Candidate Votes  %
  Democratic Party Robert E. Cramer unopposed 100

2008

Party Candidate Votes  %
  Democratic Party Parker Griffith* 156,529 52
  Republican Party Wayne Parker 147,190 48

*Griffith switched party affiliation on December 22, 2009, and is now serving as a Republican.

References


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