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What to look for in Alabama’s 2020 primary on Tuesday

MONTGOMERY — Alabama will hold its primary elections on Tuesday, March 3.

While some of the races have been much publicized, with certain candidates bombarding the airwaves for months, others have flown under the radar.

Before Alabamians head to the polls, they can check their polling place here, view information on Alabama’s voter ID law here and view the full 2020 voter guide from the Secretary of State’s Office here.

Here are the major statewide races on the Democratic and Republican ballots:

Republican ballot

President of the United States

President Donald Trump only faces token opposition in former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld in Alabama’s 2020 primary.

U.S. Senator

The GOP primary for the U.S. Senate has gotten the most attention this statewide cycle thus far. The competitive field includes former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville, Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01), former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore and State Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs).

Sessions, Tuberville and Byrne are battling for two spots in a runoff. Turnout will be a major factor, as always, in determining who is on the outside looking in. Rain in certain parts of the state on Tuesday could play a part in this equation.

U.S. Representative for Alabama’s First Congressional District

The Republican race in AL-01 is led by Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl, State Rep. Chris Pringle (R-Mobile) and former State Sen. Bill Hightower (R-Mobile). All three are very much in contention to make an almost-certain runoff, and a key in this primary could be the relative turnout in Baldwin County.

U.S. Representative for Alabama’s Second Congressional District

Wiregrass businessman Jeff Coleman is very likely to get the most votes in the primary but will not reach the majority threshold required to avoid a runoff. Two big questions remain unanswered:

How much will Coleman lead by? He could garner around 40%, but with the amount of negative advertising and free media thrown his way, that percentage might dip down well into the 30s. His lead in the primary will have a large effect on the runoff’s competitiveness.

Who will be the other candidate in the runoff? The race for second place in the primary field is wide open between Prattville businesswoman Jessica Taylor, former Alabama Attorney General Troy King and former State Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise). Respective recent polls have shown each of the three in second, with the trio within the margin of error of each other. At the end of the day, this is a total tossup and will likely be determined by late deciding voters. It will be interesting to see how many votes Terri Hasdorff gets; she has managed to gain a few percentage points in recent weeks, even with having no realistic shot of winning the race. Hasdorff’s vote share could very well take away enough votes elsewhere to impact who makes the runoff.

U.S. Representative for Alabama’s Third Congressional District

Incumbent Congressman Mike Rogers (AL-03) is running unopposed.

U.S. Representative for Alabama’s Fourth Congressional District

Incumbent Congressman Robert Aderholt (AL-04), the dean of the state’s House delegation, is running unopposed.

U.S. Representative for Alabama’s Fifth Congressional District

Incumbent Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) faces a primary challenge from retired U.S. Navy Commander Chris Lewis. Brooks has been endorsed by the likes of President Donald Trump, while Lewis has the support of the Alabama Farmers Federation, Dynetics and Alabama Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia). Polling has shown Brooks with a large lead.

U.S. Representative for Alabama’s Sixth Congressional District

Incumbent Congressman Gary Palmer (AL-06) is running unopposed.

President of the Alabama Public Service Commission

Popular PSC President Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh faces a primary challenge from a candidate who ran unsuccessfully for the PSC in 2018, Robin Litaker. Litaker has taken money from traditionally Democratic, pro-environmentalist donors. She is viewed by keen political observers as a plant for out-of-state special interest groups who have tried to kill Alabama’s coal industry in favor of Obama-era energy policies. Cavanaugh is an official honorary chair for President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign and has been credited with cutting waste at the PSC and championing pro-jobs policies.

Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama, Place 1

Incumbent Justice Greg Shaw faces a tough challenge from State Sen. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster). Ward is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a well-respected leader of criminal justice reform in the state. Shaw has the endorsement of the Business Council of Alabama’s ProgressPAC.

Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama, Place 2

Incumbent Justice Brad Mendheim is running unopposed.

Alabama Court of Civil Appeals Judge, Place 1

Incumbent Judge Bill Thompson is running unopposed.

Alabama Court of Civil Appeals Judge, Place 2

State Rep. Matt Fridy (R-Montevallo) is the frontrunner in this open race over former Jefferson County District Court Judge Phillip Bahakel. Fridy has become known as a stalwart advocate for individual liberties and an expert on constitutional law during his time in the legislature.

Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals Judge, Place 1

Incumbent Presiding Judge Mary Windom faces a token challenge from Melvin Hasting. Windom is widely respected as one of Alabama’s top conservative jurists, interpreting the law as written rather than legislating from the bench.

Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals Judge, Place 2

This race is a tossup between incumbent Judge Beth Kellum, former Jefferson County District Judge Jill Ganus and former Lauderdale County Commissioner William Smith. This contest will likely go to a runoff.

RNC delegates, State Board of Education

In addition to the aforementioned races, Republican voters will decide from candidates vying to be delegates supporting President Donald Trump at the 2020 Republican National Convention. The most interesting one to watch is a battle between Governor Kay Ivey and State Auditor Jim Zeigler.

Further, there are four uncontested State Board of Education GOP primaries. However, those places could be moot if the referendum on statewide Amendment One is successful. There is only one statewide amendment on the Republican and Democratic ballots.

Democratic ballot

President of the United States

This is the most interesting race on the Democratic side of the equation in Alabama’s March 3 primary.

This will be the first date that former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg has been on a state’s ballot; he has spent an incredible amount of money advertising in Alabama and has the important endorsement of the Alabama Democratic Conference (ADC), as well as Alabama House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels (D-Huntsville) and Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro).

However, former Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) are also expected to compete for the top spot in Alabama’s primary. Biden has the support of U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL), U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07) and Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin, among several other influential elected leaders.

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) are still in the race and on the ballot.

The likes of U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), billionaire Tom Steyer, businessman Andrew Yang, former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former HUD Secretary Julian Castro are all on the ballot but have dropped out of the race.

If Bloomberg and Biden split the vote of black Alabamians and moderate suburban Democrats, it could open the door for Sanders to be competitive.

U.S. Senator

Incumbent U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) is running unopposed in the Democratic primary.

U.S. Representative for Alabama’s Seventh Congressional District

Incumbent U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07) is running unopposed.

Both statewide ballots

Amendment One is the only statewide amendment and can be found on both ballots for a referendum. Governor Kay Ivey has been spearheading the support for this amendment, although it is a bipartisan initiative — as evidenced when the measure passed both chambers of the state legislature. Read more about the amendment here.

County-by-county primary sample ballots can be viewed for both parties here.

Runoffs will be held on March 31 as needed.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn