By TODD STACY, Alabama Daily News
Last week’s primary elections may have yielded few surprises, but they resulted in some interesting future match-ups.
Kay Ivey and Walt Maddox are your Republican and Democratic nominees for governor, respectively. We’re going to hear a lot about how this will be a close race in November, and that may be true. It will be up to Maddox and his allies to make it so. But, all things being equal, it’s still a Republican state, and that means Ivey has an advantage.
How is that? 589,533 people voted in the Republican Primary for governor. That’s more than double the 283,081 that voted in the Democratic Primary. Ivey’s 330,743 vote total is 45,000 above all the Democrats combined. It’s also more than double Maddox’s 154,599.
Republicans say these numbers dispel any notion of a pro-Maddox / anti-Trump “Blue Wave” in Alabama. Democrats say the primary numbers were similar last year before Doug Jones eventually defeated Roy Moore. I say Kay Ivey isn’t Roy Moore.
Tom Parker defeated Lyn Stuart for the GOP nomination for Chief Justice. He’ll face Democrat Robert Vance in November. The same holds true about the state being Republican and all, but this will be a little different. Parker is a Roy Moore acolyte, and some moderate Republicans could cross over and vote for Vance, just as they did six years ago.
What’s most interesting for the moment, however, are not the November elections, but rather the runoffs that take place in less than six weeks. In several of the state’s top primary races, no candidate managed to earn more than 50 percent of the vote, which means the top two vote-earners now go to a winner-take-all runoff on July 17 to see who punches a ticket for November.
Twinkle Cavanaugh (43 percent) Will Ainsworth (37 percent) were separated by just six percent of the vote on June 5, so this runoff is already a close one. Blanket television ads become less effective in runoff elections, though, so it will be interesting to see how the campaigns steer their resources.
Some are looking for Mobile County to become a decisive factor in this race because it is the home of 3rd place candidate Rusty Glover, who earned 58 percent of the vote there. That may be true. However, I would not discount neighboring Baldwin County, where Cavanaugh and Glover both performed well, and where there is a corresponding State Senate runoff that will drive out voters.
Most all political observers, myself included, thought former Attorney General Troy King would far out pace the field on June 5 due to his high name recognition. It turns out he actually trailed current Attorney General Steve Marshall by a small margin.
Chances are this already nasty race will get even nastier. However, the many attacks launched at Marshall during the primary didn’t seem to stick and, in some cases, might have backfired. So we could see a recalibration at play by King and outside groups, at least on message if not on tactics.
The winner will face Democrat Joseph Siegelman in November.
Gerald Dial’s catchy “Dial Time” ads weren’t enough to win him the Ag Commish race. In fact, his down-to-earth opponent Rick Pate out-paced him by 10 points. Going to a runoff, I would think Pate’s support from the Alabama Farmers Federation could be a big advantage for him.
As most predicted, Rep. Martha Roby will face former Rep. Bobby Bright in a runoff for the GOP nomination for Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District.
In case you weren’t aware, these two famously faced off in 2010. Bright was the sitting first-term Democratic Congressman. Roby was an upstart conservative city councilman. She won.
Now Bright is the challenger, running as a Republican with a retailored red hat and all. The national media is all over this one already, and who can blame them for picking up on a compelling storyline?
What’s a bigger sin in the eyes of the GOP faithful? Having called on Trump to step aside for Mike Pence in the wake of the “grab ’em by the…” clip, as Roby did? Or having supported Barack Obama for President and voted for Nancy Pelosi for Speaker, as Bright did?
I think I know the answer to that question, but we’ll see for sure on July 17. The winner will face Democrat Tabitha Isner in the November general.
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 News Digest for political news and analysis at www.ALDailyNews.
*Disclaimer: I formerly worked in Roby’s congressional office.