2018 Elections – Races taking shape as qualifying continues

The qualifying period for those who wish to seek state or local offices will continue through February 9, but many races — especially for governor and including one for a key county office — have already developed.

Escambia County Sheriff Grover Smith, who has been in office since 2003, is not seeking reelection, and two veteran lawmen had already qualified by January 22 to become the county’s top law enforcement officer.

ECSO Chief Deputy Mike Lambert has announced that he will run for sheriff as a Democrat. A posting on the Escambia County Republican Party’s Facebook page indicates that Heath Jackson, a narcotics investigator with the Escambia County (Fla.) Sheriff’s Office, has qualified to run on the GOP ticket. Jackson ran unsuccessfully against Smith in 2010 and 2014.

Alabama Democratic Party postings show that Circuit Clerk John Robert Fountain and Probate Judge Doug Agerton have qualified for reelection. Neither had drawn any opposition through last week.

Mike Edwards, who holds the District 3 seat on the Escambia County Board of Education, and Coleman Wallace, who represents District 7, have each qualified to seek another term. No opposition had developed for either education official through January 19.

Crowded field
The race to fill the governor’s office already had five qualified candidates — three Republicans and two Democrats — through last week, with several others having publicly announced their intent to campaign for the governorship.

On the GOP side, Gov. Kay Ivey will seek a full term. Ivey, who was elevated to the governor’s office when Robert Bentley resigned last year, will face at least two opponents in the June 5 Republican Primary, as Dothan oncologist Michael McAllister and Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle have each qualified.

Sue Bell Cobb, former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, will be vying for the Democratic nomination, as will former Alabama House member James Fields, who ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2014. Three others — Jason Childs, Christopher Countryman and Anthony White — have declared their respective intention to seek the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, but neither had filed qualifying papers by Monday.

Local connections
Two statewide races have Atmore connections, as Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Lyn Stuart and Attorney General Steve Marshall are each up for election.
Stuart, who was appointed to the Chief Justice position last year by Ivey, has been on the state’s high court since 2000. She has qualified to run for reelection on the GOP ticket, and Associate Justice Tom Parker, who has also served three terms, has qualified to run against her. No Democratic opposition had been announced through Monday.

Marshall, who was appointed AG last year, has publicly announced that he will seek a full term as the state’s top prosecutor but had not qualified by January 19. Birmingham attorney Chess Bedsole, who chaired Donald Trump’s Alabama campaign, was the only Republican qualifier through last week. Chris Christie, also a Birmingham trial lawyer, has qualified as a Democrat.

Atmore resident Greg Albritton, who represents District 22 in the Alabama Senate, has qualified as a Republican to seek reelection, while District 66 representative Alan Baker has qualified, also as a Republican, to seek another term in the Alabama House. Bradley Byrne, who is the Alabama District 1 representative in the U.S. House of Representatives, has also qualified to seek reelection as a Republican and had drawn no opponent through last week’s postings.