Offices including secretary of state contested in Alabama
The campaigns for U.S. Senate and governor have gotten the most attention leading up to Tuesday’s primary in Alabama, but five other statewide races are on the ballot. With multiple candidates in some races, some nominations may not be decided until after runoff elections scheduled for June 21.
Here are some of the key races to watch:
SECRETARY OF STATE
Four Republicans and one Democrat are on the primary ballot to succeed GOP incumbent John Merrill as Alabama’s top elections officer, secretary of state.
Ed Packard, who worked in the secretary of state’s elections division for nearly 25 years, is seeking the Republican nomination in a field that includes Jim Zeigler, who was barred from running again as state auditor by term limits; state Rep. Wes Allen of Troy, who served nearly a decade as probate judge in Pike County; and Christian Horn, a GOP activist and business owner from Madison County.
None of the four candidates has raised major complaints about election problems in Alabama, which is controlled by Republicans and voted heavily for President Donald Trump in 2020. But all have talked about measures needed to tighten election security, an issue popularized among conservatives by Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen by President Joe Biden.
Merrill couldn’t seek the office again after serving two terms. The eventual Republican nominee will face Democrat Pamela J. Laffitte of Mobile in November.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall faces a single primary challenger as he seeks a second four-year term as the state’s main law enforcement official.
First appointed to the position in 2017, Marshall is opposed by Harry Bartlett Still III, an attorney from Daphne.
Marshall, who previously served as district attorney in Marshall County, regularly opposes initiatives launched by Democratic President Joe Biden, including vaccination requirements for COVID-19 and federal policies along the border with Mexico, and he testified against the nomination of now-Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Still contends corruption is rampant in state government, and that the agency that oversees police standards and training in the state needs to be reorganized to increase public trust in law enforcement. He also supports replacing Alabama’s heavily amended Constitution, passed in 1901 to ensure white supremacy.
The winner will face Democratic nominee Wendell Major, police chief in the Birmingham-area city of Tarrant, in November.
Candidates for Alabama state auditor typically emphasize the importance of keeping track of state property, but three Republicans seeking the office this year added another talking point in the era of false claims about a stolen presidential vote — election security.
Stan Cooke, a pastor from Kimberly; Rusty Glover, a former history teacher from Semmes who served in the state Senate; and state Rep. Andrew Sorrell of Muscle Shoals all are emphasizing the auditor’s role of selecting county registrar boards as they seek the office.
Almost directly echoing false claims by former President Donald Trump, Cooke’s campaign website says the state must get ahead of Democrats before they “try and steal our elections as they did in Pennsylvania, Arizona, and even our neighbor to the east, Georgia.”
The incumbent, Jim Zeigler, couldn’t seek re-election after serving two terms and is running for secretary of state.
Winning the Republican nomination is tantamount to election since no Democrat qualified to run for auditor.
One Republican candidate for the Alabama Supreme Court is trying to woo voters with a mix that includes his devotion to God and former President Donald Trump. The other is emphasizing her experience in the courtroom — and her gun.
Greg Cook, an attorney from metro Birmingham, and Debra Jones, a circuit judge who hears cases in Calhoun and Cleburne, are seeking the Republican nomination for the Place 5 Supreme Court seat held by Justice Mike Bolin, who is retiring.
Cook is portraying himself as a “Trump-tough” Republican who was a Trump delegate and represented conservative interests in the 2000 presidential recount contest in Florida between Al Gore and President George W. Bush. Aside from partisan and legal qualifications, Cook’s campaign resume features his longtime church membership and leadership.
Jones released a commercial late in the campaign boasting of her support for Trump, her short stature — “She’s 5 feet of concrete” — and a case in which she sentenced a person convicted of child molestation to more than 1,000 years in prison. The spot shows her firing a handgun and saying the only reason she didn’t put the person “under the jail” was “the liberals” wouldn’t let her.
All nine members of the court are Republicans, and the winner of the Place 5 race will be a heavy favorite over Democrat Anita L. Kelly, a judge in Montgomery, in the general election.
Voters will decide whether to let the state go into debt for $85 million in bonds to spruce up Alabama’s state parks and historical sites.
A statewide constitutional amendment on the ballot would provide $80 million in funding for state park projects that include adding and improving camping sites, adding wireless service, upgrading electrical and water service, replacing playgrounds, constructing swimming pools and repairing parts of Gulf State Park damaged by Hurricane Sally.
The remaining $5 million would go to the Alabama Historical Commission for acquiring, renovating and maintaining historical parks around the state. The agency wouldn’t be allowed to use the money at Confederate Memorial Park in Marbury. The park is funded by a tax that was originally intended for needy Confederate veterans.