Allen Ritchie has outspent his opponent, James Patterson, in the only competitive race for Mobile County Circuit Court this term.

The GOP primary on March 1 will let voters decide whether Ritchie, who has spent more than $89,000, or Patterson, who has spent more than $61,000, will replace Presiding Judge Charles Graddick on the bench.

Both men said they have been campaigning countywide despite having full-time law practices.

“I long for a home-cooked meal,” Ritchie said about life on the campaign trail. “It has been wonderful to meet all the folks I’ve met … but it takes you from dinners at home. I’ll be thankful when the sun rises on March 2.”

Patterson also said the race has been a grind.

“I’ve been busier than a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest,” Patterson said of campaigning. “The fundraising has been extremely hard. We’ve been out in the county trying to touch as many hands as possible.”

An important factor for both candidates has been getting the word out about this year’s early primary. Patterson said the change has had an impact.

“People are used to voting later,” he said. “It hasn’t given us a lot of time to campaign.”

Ritchie agreed it has been a surprise to some.

“It has caught voters off guard,” he said. “…You can see the look in their eyes when they realize it’s coming up on us.”

However, Ritchie said the move has made the primary more relevant. Patterson said that relevance could mean a big turnout and he’s hoping for it.

As for the financials, Ritchie brought in $48,700 in donations in 2015 and $46,075 in 2016, according to records maintained by Alabama’s Secretary of State. While the total amount spent covers the entire campaign, the story only includes donations from the beginning of 2016. Ritchie brought in $10,500 in January; much of that money came from separate $1,000 donations from Donald Beebe, Dean Waite & Associates; Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton and Gene Warhurst.

For the week of Feb. 1 to Feb. 5, Ritchie brought in $4,250 with the help of two $1,000 donations from J. Allen Brown LLC and Braswell Murphy LLC.

Ritchie brought in more money the week of Feb. 6 to Feb. 12 with a total of $13,975. Most of that money came from a $10,000 donation he gave himself and $1,000 each from Eaton Barnard & Associates and Bill Eiland. In the week of Feb. 13 to Feb. 20, Ritchie brought in $17,350. Again, most of that money came from a $12,000 donation he gave himself.

Patterson brought in $9,800 in 2015 and $20,920 in 2016. In January, he received $9,480 in contributions. Patterson received separate $1,000 donations from Cooper Thurber, Charles Daniels, Elias J. Saad, B. White-Spunner and Jones Walker LLP.

For the week beginning Feb. 1, Patterson took in a total of $1,000 in donations. For the week of Feb. 6, he took in $5,600 in total donations, with $5,000 of that coming from the Self-Insurers Association. Patterson took in $4,840 the week of Feb. 13 to Feb. 20. Those donations include $1,000 from the Law Office of Joseph Kulakowski and $2,500 from Volkert. Patterson also gave himself $10,000 that week.

James Patterson
Allen A. Ritchie

This story was updated to clarify campaign contribution totals for James Patterson.