By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Although only two local races, both Republican showdowns, will be on Alabama’s March 5, Super Tuesday primary ballots in Escambia County, the inclusion of GOP and Democratic presidential candidates could make things a little more interesting.
Locally, only Escambia County Board of Education member Mike Edwards, who has represented District 3 for the past 12 years, and Escambia County Commission Chair Raymond Wiggins, who has been the District 2 representative for the past 16 years, are facing challenges.
Edwards is opposed by Jerry Wilson, a 14-year Georgia Pacific Brewton Mill employee, in the Republican Primary. Wiggins is facing a challenge from Lew Najor, a project manager with disaster mitigation company Crowder Gulf, also in the Republican Primary.
Unless a write-in vote occurs, the winner of each race will be unopposed in November.
District 2 BOE member Danny Benjamin, a Democrat who has been on the school board for 36 years, is also up for re-election. Republican Greg Dawkins, who has served since 1998 as Internet Technology and Geographic Information Systems Manager for Southern Pine Electric Cooperative, is seeking to unseat him.
That race won’t be on the primary ballot, so the district’s voters won’t make up their minds until November’s General Election.
Republicans will choose delegates committed to one of seven presidential candidates, including former President Donald Trump, or for uncommitted delegates. Incumbent President Joe Biden is among the three candidates from which Democrats will choose.
Several other national and state races will be on the primary ballots, including a contest between incumbent Alabama District 1 Congressman Jerry Carl, who is seeking a second term, and Congressman Barry Moore, who is giving up his 2nd District Alabama seat in order to challenge Carl.
Also on the ballot will be an amendment to the Alabama Constitution that if passed will add crimes for which bail can be denied. The new list includes murder, first-degree kidnapping, first-degree rape, first-degree sodomy, sexual torture, first-degree domestic violence, first-degree human trafficking, first-degree burglary, first-degree arson, first-degree robbery, terrorism, and aggravated child abuse of a child under the age of six.
County voters who will be unable to go to the polls on March 5 may apply to vote by absentee ballot. To obtain details on how to do so, voters should contact the Escambia County Circuit Clerk’s office.
Absentee ballots must be postmarked no later than the day before the election and received no later than noon on election day. If it is hand-delivered, the ballot must be in the office of the Absentee Election Manager by the close of business (no later than 5 p.m.) on the day prior to the election.
Circuit Clerk John Robert Fountain, whose office is in charge of absentee balloting, had not replied by Tuesday’s press deadline to a voice message seeking information on the number of absentee ballots already filed.
Chief Elections Clerk Natalie Rodgers reminded voters they must have a valid photo ID in order to vote, whether in person or absentee. She urged any individual who isn’t sure of his or her status or where he or she should vote, especially those who have moved since the last election, to go ahead and clear up those obstacles before the primary.
“Make sure you have a valid photo Id,” Rodgers said. “People who plan to vote should go ahead and confirm their current voter registration status if they are unsure. Also, if unsure, confirm your voting location. Some people do not understand that when they move, so does their voting precinct.”
Polls will open at 7 a.m. on March 5 and will remain open until 7 p.m.