The demise of Steve Marshall was greatly exaggerated.
Alabama’s appointed incumbent attorney general had lagged in the polls throughout the runup to Tuesday’s GOP primary — trailing in some by more than 20 points and in a distant third place. But polling in Alabama is usually untrustworthy, and Tuesday’s results showed just how bad it can be.
Marshall bested the field, beating top challenger Troy King — the man who the polls said would be a runaway winner — by a few thousand votes.
King, the state’s former AG, will now enter a runoff with Marshall on July 17.
The winner will face Democratic challenger Joseph Siegelman, son of former Gov. Don Siegelman, in the November general election. Siegelman edged out Chris Christie, 54-46, to win the nomination.
But the story of the night was in the Republican primary, where the top three candidates — Marshall, King and Alice Martin — divided the vote three ways, and fourth-place finisher Chess Bedsole took a 20-percent slice too.
At 11:30 p.m., with still 4 percent of the precincts yet to report, no candidate had managed to break 30 percent of the vote.
With more than 500,000 votes cast in the race, Marshall led King by just over 5,000 votes, 28.9 percent to 27.8. Martin was in third at 23.5 percent. Bedsole had 19.8.