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The DSCC has caught it (subscription-only link).

Democratic leaders in Alabama think their time in the wilderness may end this election cycle. All it will take to build a Democratic bonfire, they believe, is Sparks — specifically, Ron Sparks (D), the state’s commissioner of agriculture, who is seriously weighing a challenge to Sen. Jeff Sessions (R).

In his bid for a second term last year, Sparks captured 59 percent of the vote, winning 62 of 67 counties in the process. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is leaning hard on him to take on Sessions, and Alabama insiders believe Sparks could jump in the race as early as next month.

“He has a grass-roots network and good name identification and a lot of support in the Republican base — without betraying his Democratic roots,” said Alabama Democratic Party Chairman Joe Turnham. “I think there’s a sense that if he runs, he could be another [Sen. Jim] Webb [D-Va.] or [Sen. Jon] Tester [D-Mont.].”

Here's the bottom line -- if Sparks runs and wins, it'll be the final nail in the coffin of the DLC/Third Way. That crowd has argued that the only way Democrats could win in Red states and districts would be to out-Republican Republicans. Webb and Tester disproved that last year, and if everything falls nicely into place, Sparks will prove that even in the Deep South, an unapologetic populist Democrat can win without betraying his party or convictions.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Tue May 15, 2007 at 12:14 PM PDT.

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