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Associated Press - "State Senator Harri Anne Smith Running for 2nd District Seat"

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Associated Press - "State Senator Harri Anne Smith Running for 2nd District Seat"
By Bob Johnson

State Sen. Harri Anne Smith announced Thursday that she is seeking the 2nd Congressional District seat, a bid to become the first woman from Alabama to serve in Congress in her own right and not because of her husband's position.

The Slocomb Republican said her number one issue if elected to Congress will be to work to win the war in Iraq.

"I support our troops and I support winning this war," Smith said.

Other issues Smith said she will make priorities include helping farmers in the agriculture-rich southeast Alabama district overcome the drought that has gripped much of Alabama for more than a year and continuing efforts to bring industrial development into the area.

Smith is running for the Republican nomination for the seat being vacated by retiring U.S. Rep. Terry Everett, R-Rehobeth, and held by the GOP since 1964.

If elected, Smith would make history.

Two women, Maryon Allen and Dixie Graves, served short terms in the U.S. Senate after being appointed, but were not elected. Allen was appointed to the Senate in 1978 by Gov. George Wallace after the death of her husband, Sen. Jim Allen. In 1937, Dixie Graves was appointed by her husband, Gov. Bibb Graves, to fill the unexpired term of Sen. Hugo Black after Black was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Elizabeth Bullock Andrews served briefly in the U.S. House in the early 1970s after winning a special election following the death of her husband, U.S. Rep. George William Andrews.

Smith said she had not given a lot of thought to becoming one of the first woman elected to Congress from Alabama.

"I will be the most qualified. The most important thing is electing the most qualified person," Smith said.

At a news confelrence on the statehouse steps, Smith made the announcement on a cool windy morning with her husband, Charlie Smith, at her side, and her mother, Marjorie Harris, standing nearby.

A banker, Smith said she is running because she believes she has the experience needed to help the people of the 2nd District, which stretches across central and southeast Alabama from Prattville to Dothan.

"I have always loved helping people. My sole goal is to help people of the area," Smith said.

The 45-year-old Smith is serving her third term in the state Senate. She is a former councilwoman and mayor of Slocomb in Geneva County. She considered running for governor in 2006, but instead supported Republican Gov. Bob Riley's bid for re-election.

She said she believes the greatest accomplishment of her political career was as mayor and later as a senator helping lure new businesses to Slocomb and Geneva County when textile plants began shutting down.

The open Congressional seat is expected to generate interest from Republicans and Democrats across the district. So far, state Reps. Jay Love, David Grimes and Greg Wren, all Republicans from Montgomery, have said they plan to seek the 2nd District seat. Love said Thursday he is definitely running, but wouldn't make a formal announcement until after the first of the year.

Rep. Terry Spicer, D-Elba, has said he may seek the Democratic nomination. Montgomery businessman William Boyd has said he plans to run, but has not said if he will run as a Republican or a Democrat.

Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright said Thursday he is "seriously considering" making a run for the Congressional seat and would make a decision by the end of the year. Bright, who has identified himself as an independent, said he had not decided if he would run as a Democrat or a Republican.

"I'm being asked by both parties," Bright said. But he said he believes a Republican might have the best chance in the district, which generally favors GOP candidates in statewide and national elections.

Bright is serving his third term as Montgomery's mayor, but grew up in the Wiregrass region of southeast Alabama, in a rural area between Ozark and Dothan.

"I am a true product of the district," Bright said.

Bright's home is currently in Montgomery's eastern suburbs and is "just barely" in the 3rd Congressional District. But he said if he decides to run he will move to the downtown Montgomery area, which is in the 2nd District. If elected, Bright said his priorities in Congress would be to keep the military presence in the district, home to the Army's Fort Rucker and the Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, and to stop illegal immigration.

State Rep. Barry Mask, R-Wetumpka, had been mentioned as a possible candidate, but said Thursday he has decided not to run.

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