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2nd District poses tough choice for local voters

Local political observers are having a hard time predicting the outcome of the 2nd Congressional District race.

“I think there are a lot of issues that are unknown,” said Sam Shelton, associate professor of political science at Troy University.

While Republicans traditionally have held the congressional seat for the district, the Democratic challenger has a real shot of winning the seat this year, observers have said.

Republican Jay Love, who bases his campaign on strong conservative views, and Democrat Bobby Bright, who has campaigned as a conservative independent, will present a difficult choice for some local voters.

“I’m really torn,” said Terry Hassett, of Troy. “I really like Bobby Bright, but I’m concerned about the Democrats having the super majority.”

And, Hassett said he thinks many of his peers are facing the same issue.

“I think that’s a very popular opinion among Pike County because they like Bobby Bright and his record,” Hassett said.

Others, however, said they already have made up their minds.

“I’m voting for Bobby Bright because of the ads Jay Love puts out against him,” said Joy Harvard. “He totes Christian records, and I was taught if you were a Christian you don’t treat people like that.”

Voter turnout, and whether voters vote straight ticket or split ticket will play big roles in the election’s outcome, Selton said.

“I think Pike County is one of the counties that tends to be fairly evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, but the district itself has a lot of people who tend to be Republican over Democrat,” Shelton said. “This could be a disadvantage for Bright but an advantage for Love.”

But, Shelton said still, some people who are voting for John McCain may take time to mark all the candidates individually, which could be an advantage for the Montgomery mayor.

“It’s the first time … in a long time where there is a prospect that a Democrat could win this district,” Shelton said. “I think the election is very close as far as people’s preferences.”

Local party chairs, on the other hand, both said their candidate will be the one of choice for Pike County.

“As far as the congressional race goes, I think we have a real choice between a strong, conservative Republican and a Democrat who’s supported by the liberal leaders in Congress,” said Pike County Republican Party Chair Adam Drinkwater. “I’ve seen a really strong base of support in Pike County for Jay Love, both in number of signs and the personal conversations that I’ve had with people who are planning on getting out to vote for him.”

The county’s Democrat Chair Jerry Williams, however, said he thinks Bright will win more local votes.

“I think he’s going to win Pike County,” Williams said. “Historically, Pike County has voted for the candidate, not the party, and I think you’re going to see a lot of people cross the party lines and vote for Bobby.”