Rep. Spencer Bachus (R)
Elected: 1992, 9th term.
Born: Dec. 28, 1947, Birmingham .
Education: Auburn U., B.A. 1969, U. of AL, J.D. 1972.
Family: Married (Linda); 3 children.
Military career: Natl. Guard, 1969–71.
Elected office: AL Senate, 1983–84; AL House of Reps., 1984–87.
Professional Career: Owner, Lumber Co.; Practicing atty., 1972–92; AL Repub. Party chmn., 1991–92.
The congressman from the 6th District is Republican Spencer Bachus. A Birmingham native, he owned a sawmill company and for two decades was a trial lawyer. Bachus (BACK-us) was the first Republican elected to the state school board in more than 100 years. He won a seat in the state Legislature in 1982, and was also the campaign manager to Guy Hunt when Hunt was elected governor in 1986. After running unsuccessfully for attorney general in 1990, Bachus became Republican state chairman. When the 6th District was radically redrawn in 1992, he won a Republican runoff and defeated incumbent Ben Erdreich, a moderate Democrat.
|Spencer Bachus (R)||280,902||(98%)||($1,414,799)|
|Spencer Bachus (R)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (100%), 2004 (100%), 2002 (90%), 2000 (88%), 1998 (72%), 1996 (71%), 1994 (79%), 1992 (52%)
Bachus has a conservative voting record and has been an aggressive lawmaker. As the top Republican on the House Financial Services Committee, he has also been at the eye of the storm during the recent housing foreclosure crisis and the insurance and financial-markets failure. On what became a $700 billion bailout of the financial industry, he was the only House Republican to participate in the initial September 2008 discussions, and he entered into a tentative agreement with Democrats. But the move angered House GOP leaders, who opposed the deal as it stood and wanted modifications to satisfy Republican conservatives. As a result, Bachus was replaced by then-Minority Whip Roy Blunt during the final negotiations on the bailout. Bachus called the result “very frustrating.” The other senior Republican in the negotiations was Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, who was unalterably opposed to a deal. Having lost the confidence of Minority Leader John Boehner, who felt Bachus was too quick to compromise with the Democrats, he was at risk of being ousted from his leadership role on the committee, and speculation swirled about who would succeed him. But he showed skill as a survivor, which included promising to toe the party line in the future. He also rallied other influential Republicans to his side, including Virginia Republican Eric Cantor, who replaced Blunt as whip.
Bachus was in the thick of other major legislative battles. He angered Republicans in 2007 on a bill to ban predatory actions on mortgage lending when he cut a deal with committee Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., to reduce fraud and abuse. He also cooperated with Democrats on a bill to deter abuses by credit card companies.
In the 1990s, Bachus was an able investigator on the committee. He discovered that the Community Development Financial Institute, which President Clinton established in 1994, directed $11 million in loans to four banks with ties to then-first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton without proper documentation. The two top CDFI officials resigned as a consequence. Bachus was an early critic of then-Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Harvey Pitt after the Enron corporate accounting scandal broke. He also helped to enact changes in the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which provided consumers additional access to their credit reports and cut back on identity theft. In 2006, he pushed enactment of the controversial ban on Internet gambling.
Bachus has also been something of a maverick on foreign policy. He has been an unlikely crusader for international debt relief for poor Third World nations, and he criticized the Bush administration’s dealings with the genocidal regime in Sudan. In 2007, he joined a bipartisan one-day fast to promote international debt relief.
Bachus beat out fellow Republican Richard Baker of Louisiana for the top spot on Financial Services after the 2006 election. He contended that he worked better with colleagues and interest groups than Baker. He once said, “Barney Frank and I represent very different political philosophies, but when we disagree, we do so amicably.” He also was helped by his more generous campaign contributions to other Republicans, more than $800,000. And he benefited from his early support for Boehner in Boehner’s contest with Blunt for majority leader in 2006; Baker had backed Blunt. Bachus won the top committee slot on a 22-7 vote of the leadership-dominated Republican Steering Committee. Baker quit the House a year later to run a financial-industry trade group.
Bachus has not had a Democratic challenger since 1998. He has voiced interest in a statewide race.