Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - March 3rd primaries analysis

  Allow me to share some thoughts and analysis on the results of the March 3rd primaries

  The turnout was amazingly high despite rain and inclement weather across the state. 1,168,000 Alabamians voted. 725,000 voted in the Republican Primary, and 450,000 voted in the Democratic Primary. That equates to 62% Republican and 38% Democratic voters.

  It is my assessment that the same percentage is exactly what the outcome of the presidential race will look like in November. President Donald Trump carried Alabama with 63% in 2016, and that is about what the numbers will look like in the fall General Election. Trump will match his 2016 victory in the state.

  It is my opinion that Trump’s popularity among Republican voters is what accounted for the large voter turnout last Tuesday. Conservative Alabama voters came out in droves to display their approval and loyalty to Trump.

  This 62% to 38% GOP advantage seems to be the benchmark for a Republican versus Democrat contest in the state. This does not bode well for our liberal Democrat U.S. Senator Doug Jones. I will be surprised if Jones gets 40%, which is considered the ceiling for a Democrat in a statewide race in Alabama.

  Joe Biden had a spectacular day in our state in the Democratic presidential contest. Biden received 63%. His closest challenger was Bernie Sanders, who got 16%.

  Alabama was an integral part of the building block for Biden’s super victory day on Super Tuesday. Along with Alabama, the southern states of Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina all fell in line to give Biden a pivotal southern springboard that has propelled him to becoming the Democrat frontrunner. He is the only moderate candidate left standing in the Democratic field. It is now Joe Biden versus Bernie Sanders in the Democratic race. The democratic socialist Sanders will probably arrive at the Democratic National Convention with the most delegates, but a brokered convention will probably render Biden as the nominee to face Trump.

  The race for the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Doug Jones was the marquee event in the state races. This seat was held by Jeff Sessions for 20 years. He is probably very sorry he accepted the U.S. Attorney General role. He entered the contest late, and it is apparent that Trump’s vitriolic tweets over those three years were devastating to Sessions run to recapture his old seat. He received 31% of the primary vote and will face former Auburn football coach, Tommy Tuberville, who actually bested Sessions with 32%.  

  Tuberville ran as a non-politician outsider and categorized Sessions and third-place finisher Bradley Byrne as Washington establishment insiders. Byrne, who garnered 25% of the vote, could have made the runoff if a Super PAC called the “Club for Growth” had not spent over $600,000 on negative ads against him. Judge Roy Moore got 7%, and this probably ends the 73-year-old’s political career. However, Byrne’s good showing should allow him the opportunity to make another race.

  Incumbent Supreme Court Justice Greg Shaw defeated challenger Alabama state Senator Cam Ward by a 59 to 41 margin, in no small part to having the best-designed television ad of the campaign season, which ran the last week of the campaign.

  Alabama state Representative Matt Fridy outdistanced Phillip Bahakel 66% to 34% in an open race for the Court of Criminal Appeals.

  The two biggest winners in the GOP Primary were PSC President Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh and Court of Criminal Appeals Presiding Judge Mary Windom. Cavanaugh got 74% against her opponent, and Mary Windom bested her challenger 70% to 30%.

  The two open congressional races are headed for a March 31 runoff. In the 1st District, Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl led former Alabama state Senator Bill Hightower, narrowly, 39% to 37%. In the 2nd District, Dothan businessman Jeff Coleman received 39% to former Coffee County state Representative Barry Moore’s 21%.  These two contests will be interesting to watch on March 31. However, the big contest will be the runoff between Jeff Sessions and Tommy Tuberville for the U.S. Senate seat.

  About the author: Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at He can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

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