By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
The July 17 Republican runoff ballot will be a short one that doesn’t feature any local races, but there are still six key statewide posts for which local GOP members must choose a candidate. There will be no Democratic runoff election in Escambia County.
Included among the handful of runoff races on the local ballot are the only contest with a local connection — the party’s choice as the state’s top prosecutor — and the selection of the GOP’s candidate for the number-two position in state government.
Atmore native Steve Marshall, who is seeking election to the office for the first time, was appointed attorney general in February 2017 by then-Gov. Robert Bentley following the resignation of Luther Strange, who accepted a seat in the U.S. Senate.
GOP voters will choose between Marshall and former AG Troy King, who held the post from 2004 until 2011, but lost to Strange in the 2010 Republican primary.
Marshall and King were separated by less than 1 percent (2,855) of the votes cast in the June 5 Republican primary, forcing the runoff.
Next Tuesday’s runoff winner will take on Democrat Joseph Siegelman, son of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, in the Tuesday, November 6, General Election.
The July 17 ballot will also allow Republicans to determine the party’s nominee for the vacant lieutenant governorship of Alabama. Runoff voters will choose between Alabama Public Service Commission Chair Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh, who got 43 percent of the primary vote, and State Rep. Will Ainsworth, who was named on 37 percent of the primary ballots.
The winner of this race will face Lauderdale County Democratic Party Executive Committee Chairman Will Boyd in November. The post, which includes the presidency of the state senate, has been vacant since Kay Ivey succeeded Robert Bentley as governor in April 2017.
Another statewide race that is important to rural counties with a strong agricultural base, such as Escambia, is the contest for the state’s next Commissioner of Agriculture and Industry.
Either Rick Pate, who pulled 40 percent of the primary vote, or Gerald Dial, who got 30 percent, will earn the office, since no Democrat is seeking the seat.
Current commissioner John McMillan won the GOP primary for State Treasurer, and the absence of a Democratic challenger means he will become the state’s head banker in November.
Three key judgeships — one on the state’s highest court and one on each of the two intermediate-level courts — will also be decided on July 17.
Brad Mendheim, who was appointed to the Alabama Supreme Court by Gov. Kay Ivey, is seeking a full term as he high court’s Place 1 representative. Mendheim, who drew 43 percent of the GOP vote in the primary, will face 13th Judicial Circuit Court Judge Sarah Stewart of Mobile, who got 29 percent of the primary vote, in the run-off.
The winner will automatically earn the seat, as there is no Democratic challenger.
The same applies to the races for Place 2 on the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals and Place 1 on the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals.
Chris McCool and Rich Anderson are seeking the Place 2 judgeship on the criminal appeals court. Either McCool, who was named on 43 percent of the primary ballots, or Anderson, who earned 35 percent, will automatically become a member of the court.
The only other contest on the local ballot pits Alabama Tax Court Judge Christy Edwards against Baldwin County Circuit Judge Michelle Thomason for the seat on the civil appeals court.
Edwards, who earned 42 percent of the GOP primary vote, and Thomason, who was picked on 33 percent, are seeking to replace Judge Craig Pittman, who is retiring. The winner will join the court in November.
Voters who cast ballots in the Republican and Democratic primaries are reminded that under Alabama law, “an elector who voted in a particular party’s primary election may vote only in that same party’s runoff.” Any registered voter who did not vote in the primaries but wishes to vote in the runoff may choose either party’s ballot.
Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill has predicted that about 15 to 18 percent of the state’s registered voters will turn out for the runoffs, while some political pundits feel the total will be even lower.
Voting sites will open at 7 a.m. and remain open until 7 p.m.