Primary election results: few surprises, little news
Published 8:21 am Wednesday, June 18, 2008
By By Steve Flowers
Now that the dust has settled from the June 3 primaries, the news is there is no news. There were very few surprises. The results came out almost as predicted. The turnout was dismal probably due to the fact there were very few high profile races on the ballot and our presidential preference primary being held in February siphoned off the appeal that race would have offered.
Jeff Sessions won his party’s nomination for a third six-year term over token opposition. His general election foe will be State Sen. Vivian Figures of Mobile. She easily captured the Democratic nomination. However, she faces a daunting task to upset the incumbent Sessions in the fall. She is essentially unknown with very little money. Sessions has $4 million in the back.
There is one Supreme Court seat up this year but the nominees were chosen by each party without opposition. Greg Shaw is the Republican nominee and Deborah Paseur is the Democratic choice. There are two open seats on the Court of Criminal Appeals. They came open at the last moment when Republican incumbents, Bucky McMillan and Pam Baschab, decided to retire.
These races garner very little attention and it is always bewildering to political pundits to try to determine why one person won or lost. Most voters could probably not tell you who they voted for the day after the election. Much less could they tell you the name of any Appeals Court Judge or for that matter the name of any State Supreme Court Judge. Nevertheless, two attractive women won impressive victories in their respective primaries for their party’s nomination. Mary Windom, the wife of former Lt. Gov. Steve Windom, received 58 percent over two male opponents and Aimee Cobb Smith also defeated two men to win the Democratic nomination without a runoff. Mary Windom and Aimee Smith will face off in the fall. This one will be a beauty contest.
In the other Criminal Appeals race, veteran Jefferson County Circuit Judge Clyde Jones won the Democratic nomination. He will face either Beth Kellum or Lucie McLemore in November. Kellum and McLemore, both from Montgomery, will be in a runoff on July 15.
The GOP slate for the Presidency of the Public Service Commission will also be decided on July 15. Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh led overwhelmingly despite her name. Even though she is probably well known among Republican Party insiders, having served as the GOP Chairman, she is basically unknown statewide. She perceived that the name “Twinkle” was an asset and she simply put Twinkle on her campaign posters. Most Alabamians probably thought she was running for sorority secretary. She will probably beat newcomer Matt Chancey in the runoff and will face Democrat Lucy Baxley in the general election. I guess we will see signs plastered all over the state that simply say “Twinkle” and “Lucy.”
The biggest races in the state were for the two open congressional seats. The Second Congressional seat of retiring Congressman Terry Everett was the highest profile. The seat has been in the Republican column for 44 years. It attracted six GOP candidates. Montgomery State Representative Jay Love led the field. He polled 35 percent to second place finisher, State Senator Harri Anne Smith’s 22 percent. Dothan oral surgeon, Craig Schmidtke, received 20 percent to finish a close third. Montgomery businessman, David Woods, finished fourth with 17 percent. Montgomery Representative, David Grimes, received 4 percent. It is estimated that Love, Smith and Schmidtke all spent close to $700,000 each in the primary. Love and Smith will have to dig deeper into their own pockets to win the July 15 runoff and then will have to face Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright in the general election.
The Fifth District voters will probably face a confusing name dilemma come fall. State Senator Parker Griffith will be the Democratic standard bearer to keep Bud Cramer’s seat in the Democratic column. His likely opponent will be Wayne Parker, who nearly won the GOP nomination without a runoff. Parker received 49 percent to Cheryl Guthrie’s 18 percent even though he was outspent by Ms. Guthrie by over $200,000. Wayne Parker will more than likely prevail in the July 15 runoff and will face off against Parker Griffith. It will be a fun fall.
See you next week.
Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His column appears weekly in 70 Alabama newspapers. Steve served 16 years in the State Legislature. He may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.