By KIM CHANDLER, Associated Press
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The four Republicans running for Alabama attorney general are slugging their way toward an anticipated runoff in what has become one of the most contentious races of the election season.
Attorney General Steve Marshall, who was appointed to the post last year, faces challenges from former U.S. Attorney Alice Martin, former Attorney General Troy King and lawyer Chess Bedsole.
With a crowded field, the campaigns anticipate a July runoff will be required to decide the race. A runoff is required unless one of them captures more than 50 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s primary. The contest has become heated as the four vie for the two runoff spots.
The candidates spent the closing days of the primary in last-minute pitches to voters.
Marshall was a district attorney for 16 years in Marshall County before being appointed attorney general last year by then-Gov. Robert Bentley. Marshall stepped aside from an ethics probe of Bentley, who later resigned.
“What people should have seen is that I am a balls-and-strikes guy. I follow the law and I follow the facts and we do what the law requires regardless of the political consequences,” Marshall said.
Martin, a former U.S. attorney who also served as chief deputy in the attorney general’s office, is best known for overseeing a string of corruption investigations, including of the two-year college system and the financial fraud case involving HealthSouth.
“People can examine my record of corruption convictions, violent crime convictions, and have confidence I am going to uphold the rule of law regardless. … I’m not bought and paid for by any special interest,” Martin said.
King was attorney general for six years and is seeking a return to the office after losing the 2010 GOP primary to Luther Strange. King said he is emphasizing his experience in the race.
“Alabama does not have to be a place where corruption flourishes. It doesn’t have to be a place where crime is on the rise,” King said.
Bedsole is a GOP lawyer who served as state campaign director for President Donald Trump.
“We’re running for attorney general to do three things: turn the page on public corruption; target violent crime, murder and drugs; and reverse eight years of Obama regulations and 50-plus years of liberal court decisions limiting our freedoms,” Bedsole said.
The candidates have been trading blows in advertisements taking turns accusing each other of ethical lapses.
King criticized Martin and Marshall for seeking the appointment as attorney general from Bentley when Bentley was the subject of an ethics investigation.
Marshall sent out a direct mail piece with a series of unflattering headlines from King’s time as attorney general, including noting that King had been the subject of a federal grand jury investigation. The probe ended without charges.
Martin said in an advertisement that Marshall and King, “won’t drain the Montgomery swamp. They are the swamp.”