By CAROLINE BECK, Alabama Daily News
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – With the heated statewide and congressional races dominating the news coverage, it might be easy to forget that a number of key legislative seats are also up in Tuesday’s primary runoffs.
On the Democratic side, one Senate seat and five House seats are headed to runoffs. For Republicans, that’s three Senate seats and seven House seats.
Here’s a rundown of the key match-ups on Tuesday.
Senate District 6
Incumbent Sen. Larry Stutts faces Steve Lolley on Tuesday. Stutts narrowly missed winning the primary with 47 percent of the vote to Lolley’s 29 percent. That would seem to give Stutts a clear advantage, but challengers normally close the gap in runoff elections.
Lolley is a retired banker and political newcomer. Stutts defeated longtime democratic State Senator Roger Bedford by just 70 votes. An OBGYN by profession, Stutts was widely criticized for sponsoring legislation that would have repealed a requirement that insurers cover at least 48 hours of hospital care after childbirth. That 1999 requirement, Rose’s Law, was created after Rose Church, a patient of Stutts’, died a few days after giving birth.
The winner will face stiff opposition in November from Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow, a long-serving and popular member of the Alabama Legislature who is the Democratic nominee.
Senate District 13
Randy Price and Mike Sparks are competing to replace State Sen. Gerald Dial, who is now running for Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries.
Price is an Opelika resident and businessman whose campaign has been focusing on infrastructure, education and fiscal responsibility, according to his website. Sparks is a resident of Lineville and has said his experience working with legislators will enable him to make government more transparent and beneficial to the taxpayer.
The two were separated by ten points in the June 5 primary, with Price earning 47 percent of the vote to Sparks’ 37 percent.
Senate District 26
Newly-elected State Sen. David Burkette and longtime State Rep. John Knight are facing each other for the Democratic nomination for the Senate seat in District 26. This will actually be the fifth time the two men have competed on the same ballot for the same office, since they ran against each other in the special election to replace State Sen. Quinton Ross.
Burkette’s defeat of Knight back in February was seen as a shocking upset for the longtime established Alabama Democrat. Knight has been serving in the Alabama House of Representatives since 1993. Knight has said the main issues he would focus on as senator would be to save the children’s health insurance program, cutting the taxes on groceries and working on bringing more jobs to the area.
In the June 5 primary, Burkett took 47 percent of the vote to Knight’s 33 percent.
Senate District 32
The Senate District 32 GOP runoff between Baldwin County Commissioner Chris Elliott of Daphne and Dentist Dr. David Northcutt of Fairhope has been as heated as they come. Northcutt has attempted to position himself as the ‘outsider’ in the race, while Elliott fashions himself as being the candidate who forms relationships and can secure better funding for Gulf Coast.
A recent candidate forum got pretty heated when Elliott kept mentioning Northcutt’s inability to prescribe medicine anymore and the fact that their previous competitor, Jeff Boyd, filled for bankruptcy for one of his businesses.
In the June 5 primary, Elliott got 39 percent of the vote to Northcutt’s 33 percent. The winner faces Democrat Jason Fisher in the general election.
House District 78
Longtime Democratic Rep. Alvin Holmes will be facing the newcomer Kirk Hatcher for the District 78 seat. Holmes has always been a controversial lawmaker because of his outspoken and edgy comments (for example, he called Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas an “Uncle Tom” and quipped about marriage between and man and a “little mule.” Still, Holmes has for the most part enjoyed solid support from his district for his decades-long fight for civil rights gains. .
This year, Holmes has come under fire for frequently missing days work days in the House of Representatives. Hatcher thinks it is time for a newcomer to bring back positive momentum to the seat and says that new leadership is the key to revitalizing Montgomery.
In the June 5 Democratic primary, Holmes took 46 percent of the vote to Hatcher’s 35 percent.
House District 88
The race for House District 88 is also a competition between a political veteran and relative newcomer. Al Booth has served as Autauga County Probate Judge for 18 years, but is now aged out of the job because state law prohibits individuals over 70 from running for judgeships. Will Dismukes is a 28-year-old who runs his business, Custom Floor Covering, and this is his first political campaign. Booth has not shied away from his years of service, emphasizing how his experience could help the district. Dismukes offers a fresh and new perspective whose campaign mostly relies on going directly to voters to get their concerns straight form them. The winner will face Democrat Cory Neil in the general election.