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2018 Races to Watch

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By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

The major party primaries are on June 5, 2018.  Formal major party candidate qualifying opens on January 9; but already politicos are looking ahead to these 2018 races.

In 2014 it was a question if Democrats were even going to find a candidate willing to run against the then very popular incumbent Governor, Robert Bentley; now the Republicans have a new incumbent and there are a host of Democrats who have already declared their candidacy for the Democratic nomination for Governor.  Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb is running.  So is former state Representative James Fields, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox, LGBTQ activist Chris Countryman, and Center of Progress founder Jason Childs.

The Republican race for Lieutenant Governor is also being heavily contested.  State Representative Wil Ainsworth, Public Service Commission President Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh, and state Senator Rusty Glover are all running for the GOP nomination.

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice is also being contested.  Appointed Chief Justice Lyn Stuart is running for the GOP nomination, as is Associate Justice Tom Parker.  The court has been divided between evangelical conservatives like Parker and former Chief Justice Moore and more establishment types like Stuart and Chuck Malone for years and this primary will be the latest clash.

The Second Congressional District is also being heavily contested.  Generally GOP congressional incumbents waltz to easy primary wins; but Martha Roby faced a serious challenge in 2016 and then she angered Trump supporters by withdrawing her endorsement from Donald J. Trump in the presidential election.  A number of angry Trump supporters wrote in a candidate in last year’s general election.  State Representative Barry Moore is challenging Roby as is retired Army Sergeant Major Tommy Amason.  There are rumors have another challenger and national Democrats have targeted the Second District as a possible Democrat pickup in 2018.

Governor Kay Ivey has announced that she is seeking the office; but she faces a crowded GOP Primary field.  Evangelist Scott Dawson, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, and state Senator Bill Hightower are also all running for the Governor’s office, with rumors of more candidates still to announce.

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Attorney General is also being hotly contested.  Then Gov. Robert Bentley appointed former Marshall County District Attorney Steven Marshall for the position earlier this year.  Marshall, Trump’s Alabama campaign manager Chess Bedsole, former U.S. Attorney Alice Martin, and former AG Troy King are all running for that office in the GOP primary in June.

Democrats appear to be conceding the Alabama House.  At this point the only White Democratic incumbents who appear to be seeking reelection in the Alabama House are Elaine Beech and Patricia Todd.  The state Senate is a very different story.  Democrat Rep. Johnnie Mack Morrow is running for state Senator Larry Stutts seat.  Stutts narrowly unseated Roger Bedford in 2014 for Senate District 6.  That was so tight, an automatic recount was triggered.  Stutts is seen as vulnerable by Democrats and Morrow is popular in the area.

Another possible Democratic pickup in the state Senate is District 10, where popular incumbent Phil Williams, R-Rainbow City, is not seeking another term.  Former House Minority Leader Craig Ford, D-Gadsden, is reportedly looking at a run for the Senate.  Republican State Representative Mack Butler is trying to hold the seat for the Republicans.

In Senate District two, incumbent Bill Holtzclaw, R-Madison, is not seeking another term, as he is running against Congressman Mo Brooks in the 5th Congressional District.  Former Democratic Senator Tom Butler is running for his old seat; but in the Republican Primary.  Butler faces Steve Smith in the GOP Primary. Amy Wasyluka is running for the seat as a Democrat and Democrats are reportedly looking hard at other state Senate seats they could possibly pick up.

Democrats controlled both Houses of the Alabama Legislature for 135 years, until Republicans then led by Alabama Republican Chairman Mike Hubbard seized super majorities in both Houses of the Alabama legislature.  Democrats, buoyed by Doug Jones recent defeat of  Roy Moore are optimistic that they can win more statewide races next year and possibly take back enough state Senate seats that they can successfully filibuster bills that the Republicans bring forward.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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