U.S. Army veteran Kenneth Paschal on Tuesday won the special Republican primary runoff election in House District 73.
According to unofficial results provided by the Shelby County probate office, Paschal defeated Helena City Councilwoman Leigh Hulsey by just 64 votes.
The safely Republican seat was vacated by former Rep. Matt Fridy’s (R-Montevallo) election to the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals. HD 73 represents portions of Shelby County, including Alabaster, Helena, Pelham and Montevallo.
Paschal served 21 years in the Army before retiring in 2006. He is a past commander of the American Legion and a member of the Shelby County Chamber of Commerce.
His primary runoff win all but assures he will become the next representative from District 73. This would make Paschal the first African-American elected as a Republican to the Alabama Legislature since Reconstruction.
Current Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford was the last black Republican to serve in the legislature, however he was elected as a Democrat before switching parties mid-term and then resigning before completing that term. He has subsequently become a Democrat again and was never elected to office as a Republican.
Alabama Republican Party Chairman John Wahl on Tuesday night stated, “The Republican Party was incredibly blessed to have two outstanding, Conservative candidates vying for this position. Only one can be our nominee, but we want to thank both candidates for their willingness to serve. We look forward to working with Kenneth Paschal as we move toward the general election.”
Wahl added that Paschal “will be a great addition to our Republican Caucus in the legislature, fighting for the issues that matter most to the people of Alabama.”
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn