Wade on Birmingham

Vote 2010: The three or four white guys still running for governor of Alabama

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And other results from Tuesday’s state primary election

Wade on Birmingham - Vote 2010A semi-soggy Primary Election Day in Alabama brought some surprising results amid light voter turnout.

• Governor: Rep. Artur Davis, long touted as the frontrunner in the Democratic race, fell to opponent state agriculture commissioner Ron Sparks (pictured below left) in a landslide.

Ron SparksDavis picked up less than 38 percent in his attempt to become the first major black candidate for governor of Alabama. It appears not so much that Sparks won as much as Davis lost, and the reasons are many. Davis failed to win the endorsement of key black Democratic groups; he voted against his party on health care reform; he could still be the wrong color for a conservative Southern state.

Bradley Byrne, Robert Bentley, Tim James

Byrne, left, will face either Bentley,
center, or James in a runoff.

Meanwhile, a very tight three-way race among Republicans kept watchers guessing until late Tuesday night. State senator Bradley Byrne eventually pulled far enough ahead with 28 percent to secure one runoff spot. With 99 percent of precincts counted, Robert Bentley had a tiny 140-vote lead over Tim James, 25.15 percent to 25.12 percent.

It’s likely the close vote will trigger an automatic recount, which will set the stage for the July 13 runoff. The winner faces Sparks on Nov. 2.

• • •

Results from Tuesday’s primaries, state and metro Birmingham.

• • •

• U.S. Senate: Incumbent Richard Shelby handily won the GOP nomination, facing and probably trouncing Democratic attorney William G. Barnes in the fall.

• U.S. House: In District 6, Republican Spencer Bachus won 76 percent of the vote to secure re-election to his 10th term.

In District 7, the seat being vacated by Artur Davis, Don Chamberlain and Chris Salter are headed for the GOP runoff, while Terri Sewell and Shelia Smoot will compete in the Democratic runoff. Keep in mind: Only three times in history has a non-Democratic candidate filled the seat.

• Lieutenant governor: Democratic incumbent Jim Folsom Jr., who ran unopposed, will battle state treasurer Kay Ivey, who knocked out two opponents in the Republican primary.

• Attorney general: James Anderson came up just a hair short to win the Democratic nomination outright, facing a runoff with Giles Perkins. But the real tale is in Luther Strange‘s trouncing of incumbent Troy King, who not only faced opposition in a primary but also from GOP leaders after an extended battle with Gov. Riley over bingo and gambling. Strange day, indeed.

• • •

More Vote 2010 coverage.

• • •

• Jefferson County Commission: We’re still not sure why anyone wants this job, given that previous members have sent the county into billions of dollars in debt and have gone to prison. Certainly not most of the incumbents, since only one ran for re-election.

In District 1, a seat that came open when William Bell became mayor of Birmingham, Democrats Johnathan Austin (Birmingham city council member) and George Bowman (former county commissioner) are headed to two runoffs. One runoff to immediately fill the position, the other for the regular 4-year term.

In District 2, former Birmingham city council member Sandra Little Brown and radio station owner Gary Richardson will compete in the Democratic runoff.

In District 3, Vivian Ford, a minister and a Realtor, will be in the Democratic runoff against Ron Yarbrough, who served recently as assistant tax assessor in the Bessemer cutoff. Incumbent Bobby Humphryes Jr. will face businessman Jimmie Stephens in the GOP runoff.

In District 4, Democrat Roy Wood, ran unopposed, will face the winner of the GOP runoff, businessman Ronnie Dixon or attorney Joe Knight.

And in District 5, Republican business owner David Carrington won the seat outright by defeating two opponents.

Sheriff: In Jefferson County, incumbent Mike Hale handily defeated Republican challenger and convicted felon Jim Woodward. He’ll face the winner of the Democratic runoff, Ron Blankenship or Willie Hill.

In Shelby County, incumbent Chris Curry easily won re-election in the Republican race.

Voter turnout: Secretary of State Beth Chapman had predicted 35 percent to 38 percent turnout among registered voters Tuesday. In 2006’s primary, turnout was 38.4 percent, while in 2002’s primary, it was 35 percent.

But in Jefferson County, voter turnout was under 25 percent Tuesday. That was about the same turnout for Madison County and Huntsville.

With such low figures in the major cities, it’s likely the statewide turnout will be low, too, maybe even below 30 percent.

Update June 3: Birmingham News estimates statewide turnout to be about 33 percent.

• • •

How did your candidates do on Tuesday? Are you planning to vote in the runoffs? Leave us a comment with your thoughts on the primaries.

• • •

More Vote 2010 coverage.

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