With more than 95% of the vote reported in Alabama’s fifth congressional GOP primary election, Madison County Commission chairman Dale Strong holds a more than 20-point lead over his nearest competitor.
Making the runoff with Strong, who has garnered 44.7% of the vote, is former Huntsville City Schools superintendent Casey Wardynski, who has notched 23% of all votes cast.
Huntsville economic developer John Roberts and former State Sen. Paul Sanford have notched 13.8% and 11.4% of the vote, respectively.
Despite facing a negative ad blitz at the hands of Washington, D.C.-based House Freedom Fund, which is backing Wardynski, Strong landed within six points of avoiding a runoff election.
Additionally, Strong emerged as the top vote-getter in each of the North Alabama congressional district’s five counties, winning on average by an 18.6% margin.
“Our overwhelming support in all five counties last night is truly humbling,” noted Strong in a statement to Yellowhammer News. “I believe the people know about my proven leadership. You look at what we have done here locally. We’ve brought a regional approach and the success is obvious with everything that is going on here in north Alabama.”
“The people know my record and know I can make a difference in Washington,” he continued. “Joe Biden has this country in a downward spiral with ever increasing inflation, baby formula shortages and a weakness on the world stage that humiliated our military in Afghanistan and emboldened Putin. It is time to change Washington D.C. and I am ready to be the next Congressman from the Fifth Congressional District and bring about that change.”
Wardynski’s campaign will likely receive an additional boost from House Freedom Fund, whether it be in the form of additional attack ads against Strong or content directly in support of the retired U.S. Army colonel.
In a statement, Wardynski noted that Strong landed just shy of a plurality of all votes cast in Madison County at 49%, as the crowded GOP primary field largely consisted of candidates that lived in the county.
“We are excited about tonight’s results and look forward to the runoff on June 21,” said Wardynski. “Voters in the district have known Dale Strong for his quarter of a century in politics, and it’s very telling that he can’t eclipse 50% in his own backyard. Clearly voters want somebody with knowledge, experience, and grit. That’s Casey Wardynski.”
Wardynski’s ability to sway Roberts’ and Sanford’s voters to his campaign will prove vital in his effort to overtake the race’s frontrunner.
Roberts, a first-time candidate, demonstrated his willingness to run a strategic grassroots campaign throughout the race. His efforts paid dividends on election night as he came within 10 points of Wardynski. With what many see as a promising political future ahead for Roberts, how or if he decides to intervene in the runoff will be worth watching.
For Sanford, who shared intense rhetoric with Wardynski near the race’s conclusion, who he decides to back will be notable as the former state senator and restaurateur holds substantial popularity among factions of the conservative grassroots.
Also affecting the North Alabama congressional race will be U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville), who is vacating the seat, making the U.S. Senate runoff. District voters who are motivated to go to the polls for Brooks or his GOP rival Katie Britt will play a significant role in determining who lands the Republican nod for the open congressional seat.
The runoff election will be held June 21, 2022.
Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL
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