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Presidential, Senate races on Alabama’s Super Tuesday ballot

February 29, 2020 GMT
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In this Jan. 12, 2020, photo, former Senator and Attorney General Jeff Sessions talks with the Montgomery Advertiser while campaigning for the U.S. Senate seat in Montgomery, Ala. Sessions is part of a crowded GOP primary field competing to challenge U.S. Sen. Doug Jones. (Mickey Welsh/Montgomery Advertiser via AP)
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In this Jan. 12, 2020, photo, former Senator and Attorney General Jeff Sessions talks with the Montgomery Advertiser while campaigning for the U.S. Senate seat in Montgomery, Ala. Sessions is part of a crowded GOP primary field competing to challenge U.S. Sen. Doug Jones. (Mickey Welsh/Montgomery Advertiser via AP)

The Democratic and Republican presidential primaries are only part of a crowded Super Tuesday ballot in Alabama that includes a Senate contest, congressional races, appeals court seats and more. Here are the top races and issues to watch in Alabama on primary.

PRESIDENT

President Donald Trump is virtually guaranteed to easily carry the Republican primary in Alabama: He’s popular within the state’s deeply conservative GOP and has only one opponent, former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld.

The Democratic race is another matter.

With 14 names on the ballot and relatively little campaigning in the state, voters’ decisions could be based in large part on name recognition, although at least candidates planned to be in Selma on Sunday for the 55th anniversary of the “Bloody Sunday” attack on voting rights marchers by police.

Vice President Joe Biden’s popularity among minority voters might carry him to a win, and he has the endorsement of the Alabama New South Coalition. But former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg could get a boost after gaining the endorsement of the Alabama Democratic Conference, the old-line black caucus of the state Democratic Party. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg could benefit from stops in the state.

Nine other candidates are on the ballot, including Amy Klobachar and Tom Steyer, plus some who already have suspended their presidential campaigns.

U.S. SENATE

A crowded Republican field is competing for the right to challenge U.S. Sen. Doug Jones in November.

Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions is attempting to win back the seat he held for 20 years but faces opposition from former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville, U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, and former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore. State Rep. Arnold Mooney, businessman Stanley Adair and Ruth Page Nelson also are on the ballot.

Unless one candidate captures more than 50 percent of the vote, the race will head to a runoff between the top two finishers.

Jones, a one-tie prosecutor and the only Democrat to hold statewide office in Alabama, doesn’t face opposition in the primary.

U.S. HOUSE

There are crowded races for two open congressional seats in south Alabama, and an incumbent faces primary competition in the Tennessee Valley of north Alabama.

Entrepreneur Jerry Carl of Mobile, Army veteran John Castorani, business owner Bill Hightower, restaurateur Wes Lambert and state Rep. Chris Pringle are competing for the Republican nomination in southwest Alabama’s District 1, where Rep. Bradley Byrne didn’t seek re-election. Veteran and nonprofit CEO James Averhart, real estate agent Rick Collins and biology professor Kiani A. Gardner are vying for the Democratic nod in District 1.

In District 2 of southeast Alabama, where Rep. Martha Roby isn’t seeking another term, the Republican field includes moving company operator Jeff Coleman, former congressional staffer Terri Hasdorff, former Alabama Attorney General Troy King, former state Rep. Barry Moore, electrical contractor Bob Rogers and business owner Jessica Taylor.

Former state legislator Nathan Mathis and retired educator Phyllis Harvey Hall are competing for the Democratic nomination in District 2.

In north Alabama’s District 5, Rep. Mo Brooks faces a challenge in the Republican primary from retired Navy commander Chris Lewis. Victory will be tantamount to election since no Democrat is running.

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT

Alabama voters will decide a proposal to abolish the elected state school board and replace it with an appointed commission.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey is among the supporters of Amendment One, which would end the current system of electing school board members by district. Appointees would be chosen by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate under the new system.

While supporters cite lagging public schools and the need for more professionalism as evidence of a need for change, opponents contend voters should get to decide on board members.

Most states have appointed school boards.

PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION PRESIDENT

Both the Democratic and Republican parties have primaries for president of the utility-regulating Alabama Public Service Commission.

Incumbent Republican Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh faces a primary challenge from former teacher and school principal Robin Litaker.

Laura Casey and Robert L. Mardis III are competing for the Democratic nomination for PSC president. Casey was one of three audience members removed from a 2019 PSC meeting for live-streaming a hearing regarding fees charged on solar panels, and she sued the agency. Mardis is a party activist.

SUPREME COURT

A incumbent member of the all-Republican Alabama Supreme Court faces an unusual primary challenge from a state lawmaker.

Associate Justice Greg Shaw is being opposed by state Sen. Cam Ward of Alabaster.

Shaw served on both the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals before first being elected to the Supreme Court in 2008. Ward is best known in the Senate for his work on issues facing Alabama prisons, and he also has served as president of the Alabama Law Institute.

No Democrat is seeking the position.

COURT OF CIVIL APPEALS

A former judge and a state legislator are seeking the Republican nomination for a seat of the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals.

Phillip Bahakel is a former Jefferson County district judge who practices law in the Birmingham suburb of Pelham. He has tried to tie himself to President Donald Trump, wearing a Make America Great Again hat in a campaign video.

Bahakel is running against state Rep. Matt Fridy, a House member since 2014 who has served as vice chair of the Judiciary Committee and chair of the committee that oversees campaigns and elections.

There isn’t a Democrat running for the seat.

COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS

Two seats on the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals are up for grabs in the GOP primary.

In Place 1, incumbent Judge Mary Windom faces a primary challenge from Melvin Hasting, a Cullman attorney.

In the race for Place 2, incumbent Judge Beth Kellum has two challengers. Jill Ganus, who was appointed to a Jefferson County district court judgeship in 2017, and former Lauderdale County Commission member Will Smith, are opposing Kellum.

No Democrats are running for either seat.

STATE SCHOOL BOARD

Eight people are seeking the Democratic nomination for the District 5 seat on the Alabama State Board of Education now held by gubernatorial appointee Tommie Stewart.

Candidates for the position, which represents much of southwest Alabama, are: Fred Bell, Tonya Smith Chestnut, Ron Davis, Pamela J. Laffitte, Patrice “Penni” McClammy, Woodie E. Pugh Jr., Joanne Shum and Billie Jean Young.

A runoff will be required if no candidate receives at least half of the vote.

Stewart, a retired dean at Alabama State University, filled the seat left open by the death of longtime board member Ella Bell of Montgomery in November.