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Court of Criminal Appeals candidates make final pitch to voters ahead of Alabama runoff election

The two candidates in Alabama’s other statewide race, a seat on the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, are making their cases to Alabama Republicans ahead of Tuesday’s primary runoff election.

Judge Beth Kellum, the incumbent in the race, is asking voters for a third term after first being elected in 2008. She is stressing her experience and conservative values to voters ahead of the runoff.

Former Lauderdale County Commissioner Will Smith is mounting his first campaign for statewide office. Smith has emphasized his ties to conservative grassroots movements and Christian faith during his time on the trail.

Kellum led the field in the initial March 3 primary, earning 43% of the vote compared to Smith’s 37%. Jill Ganus, a former District Court judge in Jefferson County, took 20% of the vote in her third-place campaign, which helped force the runoff between Kellum and Smith.

Both runoff candidates were born, raised and educated in Alabama. Kellum grew up in Tuscaloosa County, and Smith is a lifelong resident of Lauderdale County.

Kellum received both her bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of Alabama, which she attended on scholarship during her undergraduate years after being named a National Merit Scholar.

Smith got his undergraduate degree from the University of North Alabama, and his law degree from the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University, where he earned the American Jurisprudence Award for receiving the highest grade in Criminal Procedure.

In a press release, Kellum’s campaign stressed the candidate’s “intelligence, experience, courage and conservative values.”

The campaign pointed to Kellum’s “extensive background within our judicial system that spans across several decades.”

“Before joining the bench, she not only worked as a senior staff attorney for the Court of Criminal Appeals, she also worked for the Attorney General’s office and worked in private practice,” the release added.

In a statement to the QuadCities Daily announcing his campaign in early 2020, Smith said, “I am running for the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals because I have the legal experience, the conviction to follow the rule of law, and North Alabama needs representation on the Alabama courts of appeal and in state government.”

Smith currently operates a full-service law firm in his home county near Florence. The candidate is touting the results on March 3 as evidence of momentum.

“Our campaign message really resonated with primary voters and it is amazing we were within 6 percentage points of the incumbent despite being outspent,” Smith said in a recent release.

Both candidates emphasized their intentions to apply the law as written and stress their affinity for the United States Constitution.

The primary runoff is set for Tuesday, July 14.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@new-yhn.local or on Twitter @HenryThornton95