By Todd Stacy
If you’re tired of the onslaught of political campaign ads on television, over the radio, in the mail, and even to your cell phone, there’s good news: the end is near.
There’s only one more week until the July 17 primary runoff elections when voters will decide who will represent their party in November. Under Alabama law, a runoff is required if no candidate wins a majority of votes in the primary. Whereas Republican Kay Ivey and Democrat Walt Maddox were fortunate enough to win their primaries for governor outright, many others down the ballot were forced into this playoff like scenario, and it is making for some competitive contests.
What’s interesting about primary runoffs is that the electorate gets a lot smaller. That’s true anytime, but it is especially so in these dog days of summer when so few are even paying attention to state and local politics. Secretary of State John Merrill predicts a turnout of 15 to 18 percent. That means the universe of voters candidates are trying to reach becomes a lot more precise. The campaigns that correctly identify their voters and motivate them to go to the polls will win the day, and some margins could be pretty tight.
The race for Lieutenant Governor has turned into an especially bitter affair. Public Service Commission President Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh and State Rep. Will Ainsworth continue to exchange accusations over the airwaves aimed to make the other seem untrustworthy, which is a common and sometimes effective campaign tactic. Relatively little has been said about actual policy. That might be because the Lieutenant Governor doesn’t play much of a policy role, but it’s still unfortunate given that they are basically auditioning for the top job.
The race for Attorney General was completely upended by the tragic death of incumbent Steve Marshall’s wife, Bridgette. Marshall says he’s staying in the race and fighting to keep his job partly to continue his work on mental illness, addiction, and suicide to honor his late wife. Opponent Troy King has resumed some negative ads after a pause, but that’s a double edged sword. Polls I’ve seen have Marshall winning, so King has no choice but to campaign aggressively, but he risks coming across as indelicate.
President Donald Trump probably sewed up the race for Congress in the 2nd District when he endorsed Rep. Martha Roby. Her opponent, former Congressman Bobby Bright has appeal with moderate Republicans or former Yellow Dog Democrats, but that likely won’t be enough to overcome GOP voters coalescing around a Trump-blessed incumbent in a primary runoff.
Other races down the ballot might not be getting as much attention, but are nonetheless very important.
For Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries, Lowndesboro Mayor Rick Pate is likely to seal a win over State Sen. Gerald Dial. Pate held a ten point advantage over Dial in the primary and maintains the crucial support of the Alabama Farmers’ Federation.
For Supreme Court Place One, incumbent Brad Mendheim would appear to have the advantage given his 14-point lead over opponent Sarah Stewart in the primary. But, Stewart has fundraised well since then and is making it a race.
There are two appeals court runoffs. For Court of Civil Appeals, Christie Edwards is the favorite to win over Michelle Thomason due to her nine point primary advantage, superior fundraising, and consolidated support. The same is true of Chris McCool, who is facing Rich Anderson in the race for Court of Criminal Appeals. McCool had a 7.8 point advantage in the primary and has the support of most every influential political group.
That’s just my political analysis based on what I think is likely. I encourage you to research the candidates for yourself and decide who is most deserving of your vote. Get beyond the talking points and dig deeper to find which candidate shares your hopes and goals for our state and country. Then, go vote!
Todd Stacy is the publisher of the Alabama Daily News. His 15-year career in Alabama politics spanned from the State House in Montgomery to Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Subscribe for free to his daily political news and analysis at ALDailyNews.com.