By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Tuesday, September 13, 2016 Republican Primary Voters in House District 79 went to the polls to select whom they want to represent them in the Alabama House of Representatives. A narrow majority of 51 percent selected Joe Lovvorn out of a field of four in the heavily Republican Lee County District.
Lovvorn said in a statement, “”Thank you” doesn’t really seem adequate. My family and I are so humbled and so grateful.”
The candidates were campaigning for the seat created by the conviction of former Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard (R from Auburn) in June.
According to original reporting by WSFA TV Channel 12 in Montgomery, Joe Lovvorn received 2,097 votes (51 percent); Sandy Toomer came in second with 1,059 (26 percent); Brett Smith had 501 votes (12 percent); and Jay Conner had 431 (11 percent).
Representative Hubbard was removed from his east Alabama office after a Lee County Grand Jury found the Speaker guilty of 12 counts of felony ethics fraud on June 10 forcing Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) to call a special election to fill the Alabama House District 79 seat.
Realtor Joe Lovvorn had the endorsements of ALFA, the Alabama Roadbuilder’s Association, the Alabama Trucking Association, and a number of other influential PACs. Lovvorn had raised $102,329 in cash and in-kind contributions by Friday, September 9 far outraising the other candidates.
Businessman Sandy Toomer was a vocal Hubbard critic, who challenged Hubbard unsuccessfully in the 2014 Republican Primary.
Toomer told WZLT Channel 38’s Dorothy Sherman before the vote: “I tell people that I’ve been running for this office since 2014 nothing has slowed me down. I was going to run in 2018 again if this hadn’t happened but since it did it just came early and I’m ready.”
Lovvorn told Sherman aid there’s no question there needs to be political healing following the Hubbard scandal. “People are looking for someone with honesty, integrity, and proven commitment to this community to feel that role, Lovvorn said.
The Alabama Political Reporter is not aware of any Democrat, independent, or third party candidate qualified for the ballot, thus it appears that Lovvorn has effectively won the seat as well as the Republican nomination on Tuesday and there likely won’t even be a need for a special election.
Similarly in the other House vacancy (District 41), Shelby County Commissioner Corley Ellis (R from Columbiana) appears to be the next state Representative unless a general election opponent is qualified.
Joe Lovvorn will finish the remainder of Mike Hubbard’s term and will have to face re-election in 2018 with the rest of the legislature.