By WILL WHATLEY, Alabama Daily News
A familiar face is challenging Sen. Larry Stutts in the race for State Senate District 6.
State Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow (D-Red Bay) ran unopposed in the Democratic primary on June 5 and will face the Republican incumbent from Tuscumbia in the general election on Nov. 6.
Stutts faced two opponents in the Republican primary, Steve Lolley and Eric Aycock, but failed to reach the threshold to avoid a runoff. Stutts was able to later defeat Lolley in the July 17 runoff election.
Nestled in northwest Alabama, State Senate District 6 centers around Franklin and Colbert counties and reaches into north Lawrence County, western Marion County and parts of Lauderdale County.
The district has a population of 117,045, less than the average population of 136,564 per state senate district. Of the total population, 77.2% is of voting age.
Stutts won the seat in 2014 over longtime State Sen. Roger Bedford Jr. by a total of just 70 votes. Bedford previously served as state senator for the district from 1982-1990 and 1994-2014.
Cash on hand: $178,254.28
Amount raised Oct. 15-Oct. 22: $30,650
Cash on hand: $144,096.35
Amount raised Oct. 15-Oct. 22: $11,500
Party affiliation isn’t the only difference between Larry Stutts and Johnny Mack Morrow. One is a veterinarian-turned-
And even though they represent different ends of the political spectrum, Stutts and Morrow differ greatly on the issues facing their district.
When asked why he was running for state senate, Morrow said it was because of public education.
“I couldn’t sit back and watch public education get destroyed,” said Morrow. “Mark Twain said it best when he said ‘the strength of any nation comes out of public schools.’”
Morrow said public education is getting weaker in the district because Stutts voted in favor of charter schools.
“We must keep opportunities open to children,” Morrow added.
Stutts wants to “transform the education system” by implementing outcomes-based funding for higher education and setting clear goals in primary and secondary education.
“Tennessee has a larger population than Alabama does, but we have 150 more people in our state Department of Education than they do,” Stutts stated.
In fact, Stutts wants to continue the course of “right-sizing” state government at all levels. Most notably, he wants to improve efficiency in the Department of Corrections and the Department of Transportation.
“We must improve our prison system,” he said. “We need more corrections officers to address one of the issues it faces.”
As far as transportation, Stutts would like to see infrastructure in rural towns and counties improved by giving the money to local communities for them to use.
Morrow supports repairing highways and bridges in the district as well; however, it was unclear if he wanted to leave that up to the individual communities or keep it at the state level.
Morrow also supports letting citizens vote on a state lottery.
“We’re surrounded by lottery states,” he said. “It’s time we allow the people to vote.”
Morrow said he saw one study which estimated the state loses up to $330 million dollars because of the lottery, money which could be used to support other state programs like mental health or the opioid epidemic.
“It’s fiscally responsible to let people decide between the lottery or raising taxes,” he added.
Stutts says a lottery is a nonstarter when it comes to funding essential state services.
“A lottery preys on people who can least afford it,” said Stutts. “Neither does it fix all our problems. I think we should spend our money wisely before taking more.”
Stutts added that studies showing how much states could take in from a lottery could also be skewed.
“Some people think we could generate up to $330 million in state revenue by implementing a lottery, but that number doesn’t seem feasible,” he said. “Arkansas and Oklahoma have similar population numbers to Alabama and they only make about $50 million from the lottery.”
- Alabama Realtors
- Alabama Retail PAC
- Alabama Forestry Association
- National Federation of Independent Businesses
- Medical Association of the State of Alabama
- Alabama Education Association
- Alabama Farmers Federation
- Alabama State Employees Association
- Alabama Homebuilders Association