Two democratic contenders were among 11 candidates who qualified Aug. 5 to replace Jo Bonner as the representative for Alabama’s First District in the U.S. Congress. Bonner voluntarily resigned Aug. 2 to accept the position of vice chancellor of economic development and government relations for the University of Alabama System.

Lula Albert-Kaigler, a self-described “retired, self-employed, small business management professional, veteran, senior citizen and widow” will face Burton LeFlore on the democratic ballot at a special primary election Sept. 24. LeFlore, the owner of a real estate firm who most recently lost a bid for Yvonne Kennedy’s vacant seat in the Alabama statehouse, is the grandson of civil rights activist John LeFlore.

But in a conservative district covering all of Mobile, Baldwin, Washington and Escambia counties, as well as portions of Monroe and Clarke counties, it is widely expected one of the nine Republican candidates who qualified will advance to a general election by Dec. 17 and assume a seat that has only changed hands three times since 1965.

Republican candidates who qualified include:

• Bradley Byrne – an attorney, former state senator and former chancellor of the Alabama Community College System.
• Daniel Dyas, a Fairhope small business owner and general contractor.
• State Rep. Chad Fincher, a real estate business owner who has represented Alabama’s 102nd District in Montgomery since 2006.
• Wells Griffith, an attorney and deputy chief of staff for the Republican National Committee.
• Quin Hillyer, a conservative media columnist and commentator with staff experience on Capitol Hill.
• Jessica James, a Realtor and political consultant who previously campaigned for Alabama State Board of Education.
• Sharon Powe, a small business owner and legal assistant for the U.S. Small Business Administration.
• David Thornton, a retired industrial and business professional.
• Dean Young, a Realtor, small business owner and previous challenger to Jo Bonner

As a part of an expedited timeline approved by Gov. Robert Bentley to replace Bonner, separate Republican and Democratic ballots will be cast during a special primary election Sept. 24. If a runoff is necessary, it will be held Nov. 5 and the winners from each party will meet in a special general election Dec. 17. If no runoff is required, the general election will be Nov. 5.

Third-party or independent candidates may qualify for the election until 5 p.m. Sept. 24. Members of Congress are elected for two-year terms paying an annual salary of $174,000, but the winner of this special election must run again in 2014.