Qualifying for 2018’s national, state and county political races has ended, and there is no shortage of candidates from either of the two major parties for many of the elective offices.
Races have developed for only three political offices in Escambia County, and two of those won’t be decided until November. But one judicial office-holder announced that he would seek a higher office within the local judiciary, and an Atmore City Council member announced that she would challenge an incumbent state legislator for his post.
Contested races developed for two seats on the Escambia County Commission, as Republican Fletcher “Scottie” Stewart threw his hat into the ring to challenge incumbent Larry White, a Democrat who has held the District 3 seat since 1994, in November, and Karean Reynolds qualified to run against incumbent District 5 Commissioner David Quarker, who has served two terms, in the June 5 Democratic Primary. Commissioner David Stokes (District 1) qualified without opposition.
Mike Lambert, chief deputy of the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, will face off in November against Heath Jackson, a narcotics investigator with the Escambia County (Fla.) Sheriff’s Office, to see who will become the county’s new top law enforcement officer. The winner will succeed Grover Smith, who has been in office since 2003 but is not seeking another term. Lambert is a Democrat; Jackson, who ran unsuccessfully against Smith in 2010 and 2014, is a Republican.
Escambia County District Judge Jeffrey A. “Jeff” White qualified as a Republican to seek the Circuit Court judgeship being vacated by Judge Bert Rice, who has announced that he would not seek another term. Barring a successful write-in or independent candidate, Gov. Kay Ivey will appoint someone to fill the district judgeship when White, who has no Democratic opposition, is elevated to the circuit bench next January.
Democrat Susan Smith, currently in her second term as District 4 representative on the Atmore City Council, qualified to seek the District 66 seat in the Alabama House of Representatives, a post held since 2006 by Republican Alan Baker.
Escambia County BOE members Danny Benjamin (District 2), Mike Edwards (District 3) and Coleman Wallace (District 7), have qualified without opposition to retain their respective seats for another six years, while Circuit Clerk John Robert Fountain and Probate Judge Doug Agerton, each of whom qualified for reelection, met no opposition.
A baker’s dozen
The governor’s race should be an exciting one, as 13 individuals — seven Democrats, six GOP members — filed papers and paid qualifying fees to have their names put on their respective party’s primary ballot as gubernatorial candidates.
Incumbent Kay Ivey, who was elevated from lieutenant governor to governor last year when Robert Bentley resigned, will try to retain her residency in the governor’s mansion. Ivey’s in-party opposition will include Dothan oncologist Michael McAllister, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, Birmingham evangelist Scott Dawson, State Senators Bill Hightower and Slade Blackwell.
The survivor of that race will face one of seven Democrats in the November General Election.
Sue Bell Cobb, former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, qualified to seek the Democratic nomination, as did former Alabama House member James Fields (an unsuccessful candidate in the 2014 lieutenant governor’s race); Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox; Dothan minister Anthony White; Florence minister Will Boyd; Christopher Countryman, a self-proclaimed “marriage equality activist”; and Doug “New Blue” Smith, who unsuccessfully ran for Commissioner of Agriculture and Industry in 2014.
Other state offices
Two of the three statewide contests with Atmore connections — Attorney General and Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice — will feature multi-candidate races, while Atmore resident Greg Albritton, who holds the District 22 seat in the Alabama Senate, qualified and did not draw opposition.
Atmore native Steve Marshall, who last year was appointed by Ivey as Alabama Attorney General, will seek a full term as the state’s top prosecutor. Birmingham attorney Chess Bedsole, who chaired Donald Trump’s Alabama campaign, will also be seeking the Republican nomination, as will former AG Troy King and former U.S. Attorney Alice Martin.
Birmingham lawyers Chris Christie and Joseph Siegelman, son of former governor Don Siegelman, each qualified for the Democratic Primary.
Another Atmore native, Lyn Stuart, is seeking to earn a full term as the state’s highest-ranking jurist. Stuart, appointed Chief Justice by Ivey last year and a member of the state’s highest court since 2000, qualified to run for reelection on the GOP ticket.
Associate Justice Tom Parker, a Republican who has also served three terms on the court, has qualified to run against her in the June 5 GOP Primary. The winner of that race will square off against Democratic Jefferson County Circuit Judge Bob Vance Jr. in November.
Bradley Byrne, who represents Alabama’s 1st Congressional District, will face a Democratic challenger in his bid to earn a third full term in the U.S. House. Byrne — who won a special election for the seat in December 2013 and has twice since been reelected — will face Democratic challenger Robert Kennedy Jr. in November.
Kennedy, a business executive and former naval officer from Prichard, drew 29,215 votes in last year’s Democratic primary and was runner-up to Doug Jones, who eventually won a special election for Alabama’s vacant seat in the U.S. Senate.