There’s nothing like a little alleged dental impropriety to spice up a state senate race.
In the Alabama Senate District 32 Republican runoff, that’s just what you’ll find following primary second-place finisher David Northcutt. A dentist from Huntsville, Dr. Dugald McMillan III, placed advertising in media in District 32 urging voters against Northcutt, saying he illegally solicited dental clients for votes, thus compromising their privacy.
It didn’t stop Northcutt from surviving the five-man primary field, and he came away with 32 percent of the vote, second to Baldwin County Commissioner Chris Elliott’s 38 percent.
Northcutt has filed a complaint with the Secretary of State’s office about McMillan’s tactics, saying he failed to register with the state or reveal the identity of his donors.
“I have been contacted from the Secretary of State’s office to verify that the complaint has a case number and is being worked aggressively,” Northcutt said. “There are campaign laws that govern what can and cannot be done in an election. Dr. McMillan from Huntsville broke three of these laws and I’m expecting him to be held accountable.”
Elliott has been fending off his own negative publicity, some of it surrounding a DUI from back in 2016. Voters have received calls from pollsters asking them if they believe Elliott tried to use his position to get out of the charges. His campaign manager, Jon Gray, said nothing could be further from the truth.
“If he wanted to get out of it, no one would know about it,” Gray said. “We did all our polling months ago. I’m very comfortable with it. Chris has atoned for it.”
Northcutt said Elliott has falsely said his business license was suspended, but Northcutt said he allowed it to expire more than a decade ago.
“I have never had any action taken against my business license,” Northcutt said. “It is very common for politicians who have an abysmal record to engage in negative and false tactics in order to draw attention away from themselves. You can rest assured that I will not be engaging in any of this deceptive behavior.”
Gray said he expects the tone of the remaining runoff campaign to be harsh.
“This race is going to get negative,” he said.
While the background tone of the race is bubbling up some negativity, both candidates say they are also concentrating on strengthening their bases as they head to the July 17 runoff. In the primary election June 5, Elliott won 24 of the district’s 36 precincts and both the provisional and absentee boxes in gathering 8,949 votes. Northcutt won 11 precincts for 7,554 votes and Orange Beach Councilman Jeff Boyd won the remaining box in his home city.
“We were the strongest on the Eastern Shore,” Northcutt said. “We were not as strong in the rest of the county. Moving forward, we will be branching out more.”