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Last updated 4:29AM ET
March 8, 2021
Alabama
Alabama
Cramer Won't Seek Re-election to Congress
(2008-03-14)
(APR - Alabama Public Radio ) - Nine-term Democratic congressman Bud Cramer shook up the Alabama political landscape Thursday by announcing he would not seek re-election in November.

The surprise retirement leaves little time for campaigning before the state's June 3 party primaries and opens up a competitive district that Republicans have long eyed as a potential pickup opportunity.

The filing deadline for the primary is just a few weeks off, on April 4, but already a host of names were being mentioned as potential candidates.

Cramer, 60, of Huntsville, is part of a vanishing breed in Congress of conservative Democrats from the South.

He said in a statement he believes this is a good time for me to step aside and transition to new leadership.

This was a difficult decision, but after 28 years of public service it is time for me to step aside, spend more time with my family and begin another chapter in my life, the statement said.
Cramer and his aides declined to take questions.

The announcement stunned fellow lawmakers in Alabama and Washington.
Rep. Artur Davis, a Birmingham Democrat who heads the national Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's candidate recruitment, said he spoke with Cramer as recently as Wednesday and had no indication he was considering retiring.

I learned about it approximately 10 minutes ago, Davis said late Thursday. I'm disappointed to see it ... he has served the state very well.

He was a lock to be re-elected, so yes we've got some work to do now to find a good candidate, but I assure you that we will find a good candidate, Davis said.

Alabama Democratic Party chairman Joe Turnham called Cramer a great public servant and said the party will work hard to keep the seat in Democratic hands. He said 85 percent of the elected officials in the 5th District are Democrats, which he said gives the party a strong field of candidates to choose from.

We already anticipate there will be several outstanding Democrats who will want to succeed Congressman Cramer, Turnham said.

State Rep. John Robinson, D-Scottsboro, said he might consider seeking the seat.
I won't rule it out, Robinson said. That's what I've always wanted to do.

Davis mentioned state Sen. Parker Griffith of Huntsville as a potential candidate.

Alabama Republican Party chairman Rep. Mike Hubbard praised Cramer for frequently working across the aisle but said the GOP would work hard to elect a Republican to the district, which has been represented by a Democrat for more than 100 years.

I guarantee you we will have a quality candidate, he said.

With his announcement, Cramer joins a long line of retiring lawmakers this session and becomes the second Alabama congressman to announce in recent months, following Republican Rep. Terry Everett of Rehobeth.

Cramer was elected to Congress in 1990 after serving 10 years as Madison County's district attorney. Representing north Alabama's 5th District, he faced difficult election challenges earlier in his career but has more easily fended off challengers in recent years.

Mostly steering clear of ideological battles, Cramer is particularly known for his powerful position on the House Appropriations Committee, from which he has helped steer federal spending into the district for projects such as the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center the Army's Redstone Arsenal.

He also sits on the Intelligence Committee, a behind-the-scenes post with oversight on secret national security operations.

Just last year, he was named to the influential Defense Appropriations subcommittee, which he called a career-long dream because of the impact that military spending has on the district.

And after spending most of his congressional career in the minority party, Cramer expressed optimism last year that newly empowered Democrats would break through gridlock to pass significant legislation.

He has frequently been rumored to be considering switching parties, as now-Republican Sen. Richard Shelby of Tuscaloosa did in 1994 after Democrats lost control of Congress. But Cramer said in an interview last January that he never gave it much thought.

That was speculation that I had no part in, he said. I've always been comfortable where I am. I've always been a conservative Democrat who's been a bit of a thorn in the side of our leadership. I'll continue to be a thorn in the side of our leadership.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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