While there were few surprises in the statewide presidential primaries, down-ballot races for area congressional and senate seats were much closer including two marquee contests that are heading for runoffs on March 31.
Democratic former Vice President Joe Biden won Alabama with about 54 percent of the vote in the primary to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 16 percent. Republican President Donald J. Trump, with about 96 percent of the vote, trounced challenger Bill Weld in the GOP primary.
For the District 1 congressional seat, County Commissioner Jerry Carl, with 38 percent of the vote, just edged out former state Sen. Bill Hightower and his 37 percent in the Republican primary. The two candidates will face each other in a runoff. They were separated by just 1,226 votes.
In a statement, Carl told supporters he was “encouraged” by the results on Super Tuesday and felt he was the candidate voters were looking for.
“They want someone who is Trump-tough,” Carl said in the statement. “They want someone who delivers and that’s exactly what I’ve done throughout my career. I’m ready to make my case in the runoff — I’m someone who isn’t afraid to stand with Trump to build the wall, protect our south Alabama values, and be a strong conservative who stands with the President.”
On his campaign’s Facebook page, Hightower released a statement in which he told supporters he was “grateful.”
“Voters responded to our positive message of defending the unborn, protecting our liberties, and holding career politicians accountable, and they rewarded our campaign with a spot in the Republican run-off election,” he said in the statement. “Our message will not change. We will continue to fight for our Alabama values, and we will stand alongside President Trump and his agenda to Keep America Great.”
There will be a runoff on the Democratic side of the District 1 congressional race as well. Kiani Gardner and her 44 percent of the vote just topped James Averhart’s 41 percent. Gardner, who lives in Spanish Fort, narrowly lost in Mobile County but had a stronger showing across the Bay.
Like the local congressional elections, the GOP senate race is also headed to a runoff. Former Auburn football coach Tommy Tubberville, with 33 percent of the vote, just edged out former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who captured 31 percent of the 711,809 votes cast.
U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne won Mobile County but came in third overall with 24 percent of the vote. He missed the runoff and was unable to seek reelection for his current House seat.
Trump tweeted comments critical of Sessions Wednesday morning after being uncharacteristically quiet during the lead up to the primary contest.
This is what happens to someone who loyally gets appointed Attorney General of the United States & then doesn’t have the wisdom or courage to stare down & end the phony Russia Witch Hunt. Recuses himself on FIRST DAY in office, and the Mueller Scam begins! https://t.co/2jGnRgOS6h
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2020
Statewide Amendment 1, which would’ve abolished the current elected state school board and replaced it with representatives appointed by Gov. Kay Ivey, failed with about three quarters of state voters rejecting it.
In a statement from Ivey spokeswoman Gina Maiola, the governor’s office called the failed amendment “bold” and a way to improve the state’s public education.
“Governor Ivey was willing to step out and support this idea because she firmly believed leadership — and change — started with the Board itself,” the statement read. “Tonight, however, it appears the fear of losing the right to elect our State School Board members was greater than the confidence we had that fundamental change could be made. While disappointed, the governor’s resolve to improve our public education system remains intact.”
On the other hand, Jackie Ziegler, District 1 representative and president pro tem of the State School Board said, “the defeat of Amendment One is a victory for the voters of Alabama. We, the people, will select the State School Board, not the governor.
“We have many problems in the state school system. Our problems will be solved only by a team effort — the elected members of the school board working together with the governor, the legislature, the state department of education, educators, local school boards and superintendents, parents, and taxpayers. There is a needed role for all stakeholders.”
The general election race is set for Public Service Commission President with GOP incumbent Twinkle Cavanaugh taking on Democratic challenger Laura Casey, following both party primaries.
Baldwin County results
Nearly 64,000 ballots were cast in Baldwin County. 76 percent were Republican. Although he lost district-wide in the Senate race, Bradley Byrne won the Baldwin vote by 56 percent to Jeff Sessions’ 25 percent and Tommy Tuberville’s 12 percent.
For House of Representatives, Baldwin County Republicans preferred Bill Hightower in 41 percent of ballots, Jerry Carl received 31 percent and Chris Pringle 18 percent.
A new member will join the Baldwin County School Board representing District 5. Incumbent Norma Lynch, who was appointed to the seat two years ago, was unable to withstand a challenge from Gulf Shores businessman Robert Stuart. Stuart received nearly 60 percent of the votes.
Of the 12,602 Baldwin County residents who cast Democratic ballots, 58 percent went to Joe Biden in the presidential primary, while Bernie Sanders received 19 percent and Michael Bloomberg 12 percent.
Kiani Gardner won nearly 60 percent of ballots cast in the District 1 House of Representatives race, followed by Rick Collins with 20 percent and James Averhart with 19 percent.
Statewide Amendment 1 was rejected by 77 percent of Baldwin voters.
With 166,280 total registered voters in Baldwin County, Tuesday’s election drew about 32 percent of them to the polls, according to the Alabama Secretary of State.
Mobile County local races
In a close contest, Zack Moore won the republican nomination for Mobile County District Judge with 52 percent of the vote compared to his opponent Edward Blount’s 47 percent.
Moore now moves on to face Democratic Alan Colvin in the Nov. 3 general election. Colvin was the only qualifying Democratic candidate, so his name did not appear on Tuesday’s ballot.
One of the two Mobile County School Board seats up for election will head to a runoff while the other was narrowly decided during Tuesday’s primary.
After facing a significant challenge from former Mobile County Training School principal Douglas July, former board president Reginald Crenshaw retained his seat by securing 52 percent of votes cast in the board’s third district, which includes schools in Prichard and North Mobile.
The seat in District 4, which includes Murphy, Williamson, LeFlore and B.C. Rain high schools in Mobile, will move to a runoff between former radio host Ty “Chocolate Ty” Burden and retired educator Sherry Dillihay-McDade. Dillihay-McDade narrowly took the top spot in Tuesday’s primary — collecting 45 percent of the ballots cast to Burden’s 40 percent.
Mobile County Commissioner Connie Hudson handily defeated her primary challenger Robert Lee Turner with 79 percent of the vote. With no Democratic challenger in the general election, Hudson has effectively secured her third full term in office.
Controversial Mobile County Treasurer Philip Benson 64 staved off a primary challenge from Danny Perry 35 percent. Benson drew national attention last year for comments he made about the LGBTQ community. He later apologized, calling the remarks “mean-spirited.”
In the past, Benson has also clashed with Mobile County Commissioners, who voted to strip him of his authority to manage the daily operations of the county’s investments last April.
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