2014 Primary Election Summary

Few Surprises in Alabama’s Primary Election

The Alabama primary election came and went with very few surprises. Despite an expensive and brutal campaign season leading up to the primary, most incumbents maintained their party nominations.

AL-06 Congressional Race Going to Runoff

The most exciting race of the night was the race for Alabama’s 6th Congressional District seat vacated by Rep. Spencer Bachus who is retiring. With seven candidates vying for the seat, a runoff was almost inevitable; however, who faced off in the runoff was up for grabs.

State Representative Paul DeMarco maintained a comfortable lead most of the night, but the number two spot changed numerous times. Gary Palmer, co-founder of the Alabama Policy Institute, quietly edged out his competition and gained 20 percent of the vote, which was enough to put him in the runoff with DeMarco.

Statewide Offices of Note

Governor Robert Bentley and Lt. Governor Kay Ivey won their elections by large margins. Governor Bentley received 89 percent of the vote and was declared the winner less than an hour after polls closed. Lt. Governor Ivey won with 62 percent of the vote.

The Secretary of State race will go to a runoff between former Montgomery County Probate Judge Reese McKinney and state legislator John Merrill from Tuscaloosa. Merrill received 40 percent of the vote, and McKinney received 38 percent. There is no Democratic candidate, so whoever wins the runoff will inevitably be elected in November.

Incumbent Jeremy Oden won his place back on the Public Service Commission (PSC) over candidate Kathy Peterson, and Chip Beeker will face incumbent Terry Dunn in a runoff for Place 2 on the PSC.

Legislative Leadership Remains Intact

Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard and Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh both won their nominations handily. AEA spent an unprecedented amount of money to unseat the state’s top two legislators, but fell short by 20 points in each race.

Hubbard faced political newcomer Sandy Toomer who received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the AEA and the Alabama Foundation for Limited Government, a secretive dark money group that dumped money into several races across the state. Despite a vicious campaign, Hubbard won the nomination with approximately 60 percent of the vote.

Hubbard faces Democrat Shirley Scott Harris in November.

Marsh defeated Tea Party candidate Steve Guede with 60 percent of the vote. He faces Democrat Taylor Stewart in November who has already received large donations from the AEA.

Incumbents Win Despite Vicious Campaigns

Several incumbent Senators faced an uphill campaign battle leading into the primary.

Sen. Jimmy Holley (R – Elba) was a primary target for the AEA. His opponent, Garreth Moore, received $350,000 from the group, but lost by 20 points to the long-time incumbent.

The AEA also went all in against Sen. Gerald Dial (R – Lineville) in what turned out to be the closest race of the night. At one point, many news outlets believed Tim Sprayberry had defeated Dial, but the incumbent Senator pulled ahead by approximately 400 votes and won the nomination.

First-term Senator Tom Whatley (R – Auburn) fought hard against his opponent, Andy Carter. Though it was touch and go much of the night, Whatley pulled out a victory, winning by six points.

Senate District 8 was an open seat vacated by Sen. Shadrack McGill (R – Scottsboro) who did not run for reelection. AEA contributed $200,000 to State Representative Todd Greeson’s (R – Ider) campaign, but businessman Steve Livingston who was endorsed by the Business Council of Alabama defeated him.

The Alabama Farmers Federation (ALFA) provided significant support to David Wheeler who ran, unsuccessfully, against incumbent Jack Williams (R – Vestavia). Williams serves as Chairman of the Commerce and Small Business Committee. He received the party nomination with 60 percent of the vote.

A Handful of House Incumbents Defeated

A small number of House Republican incumbents were defeated on Tuesday.

In what may be too close to call at this point, it seems that Tim Wadsworth has defeated Rep. Richard Baughn (R – Lynn) by approximately 56 votes. Baughn is a first-term representative who served on the Transportation, Utilities, and Infrastructure and Commerce and Small Business Committees. Wadsworth is an attorney from Arley, Alabama.

First-term legislator Rep. Wayne Johnson (R – Madison) lost to small business owner Richie Whorton. Johnson served on the Judiciary, Public Safety and Homeland Security, and Military and Veterans Affairs Committees. Whorton is from Owens Cross Roads, Alabama and is the co-owner and manager of All Star Pools, Inc.

Long-serving legislator Rep. Charles Newton (R – Greenville) lost to businessman Chris Sells. Newton, who was first elected in 1989, switched parties in February of this year. He served on the Ways and Means – General Fund, Public Safety and Homeland Security, and Internal Affairs Committees. Sells is the owner of Sells Medical Equipment. He is also from Greenville.

Jasper Police Chief Connie Rowe unseated first-term legislator Rep. Bill Roberts (R – Jasper). Roberts served on the Transportation, Utilities, and Infrastructure, Economic Development and Tourism, Boards, Agencies, and Commissions, and Children and Senior Advocacy Committees.

Former state legislator Jimmy Martin from Clanton defeated first-term incumbent Rep. Kurt Wallace (R – Maplesville). Wallace defeated Martin in the 2010 general election, and Martin has since switched to the Republican Party. Martin represented the district for 12 years before his defeat in 2010. Wallace served on the Transportation, Utilities, and Infrastructure and Commerce and Small Business Committees. Martin is the co-owner of Martin Funeral Home in Clanton.

Runoff and General Election 

The runoff will be held on Tuesday, July 15, 2014.

The general election will be held on Tuesday, November 4, 2014.