Alabama voters will head to the polls tomorrow, Tuesday, Aug. 15 to vote in the special election primary for the U.S. Senate. Top l-r: Democrat Doug Jones, Republican Roy Moore; Bottom, l-r: Incumbent Republican Sen. Luther Strange, Democrat Robert Kennedy, Jr. and Republican U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks
CULLMAN – Tomorrow, voters across the state of Alabama will pick their respective party’s nominees for the U.S. Senate seat left vacant when U.S. Attorney Gen. Jeff Sessions was appointed to his current position by U.S. President Donald Trump. The seat is currently held by Sen. Luther Strange, who was appointed by former Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley. It is possible that both parties will avoid a runoff, given recent polling of state voters, but if it does happen, the run-off election will be held on Sept. 26 with the general election Dec. 12.
The primary race has been a slugfest, with Republican candidates campaigning hard in Cullman County.
What voters need to know about this primary election
- No “cross-over voting” between primaries and run-off elections
A new law prohibits Alabama voters from switching political parties between a primary runoff. The Associated Press reported in May, “Alabama does not require primary voters to register with a political party. The crossover voting ban is an attempt to prevent voters of one political party from trying to meddle in another party's runoff – although there is a dispute about how much that actually happens.”
Basically, if you vote Republican in Tuesday’s primary, you cannot vote Democratic in the run-off election, if there is one. The cross-over rule does not apply to the general election, nor to voters who do not vote in the primary.
Said Cullman County Probate Judge Tammy Brown, “For those persons who (do) not vote in the primary election, he or she may choose either party’s (candidate) in the primary run-off election.”
Brown says the cross-over rule starts over with each election cycle and only applies to primary and primary run-off elections. It does not apply to general elections.
According to Vinemont poll worker Ernestine Linton, “I have to write down Dem. or Rep. by their (each voter’s) name. When that voter comes back at the runoff, they’ll already have that by their name, and they cannot change.”
- A valid photo ID will be required to vote, and polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- Voters may check their registration status and polling place at www.alabamavotes.gov.
- For sample ballots and more information, visit www.cullmancourts.org/probatecourt.html.
On the Republican side, former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore holds a comfortable lead ahead of his opponents according to Monday’s polls. The Trafalgar Group puts Moore with 35 percent of the vote, a 12-point gap between him and his closest competitor, incumbent Sen. Luther Strange, who last week received Trump’s endorsement. Rounding out the top three is U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, a local party favorite.
On the Democratic side, frontrunners include Robert Kennedy Jr. (no, not that Kennedy) and Doug Jones, who has garnered endorsements from former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, U.S. Rep. John Lewis D-Georgia and Alabama’s sole Democratic representative, Terri Sewell. Jones is also the favorite among local party faithful, receiving the unofficial endorsement from the Cullman County Democrats. Local Democrats voted to endorse Jones, but stopped short of officially endorsing him upon advice from State Democratic Chair, Nancy Worley.
Below is a brief rundown of each candidate for final consideration:
Republican Party candidates:
James Beretta: A Shelby County pain management physician and grandson of immigrants. Supports immigration reform with strict rules for immigration, including a three-year time limit to learn English.
Joseph Breault: An Air Force Chaplain at Maxwell AFB in Montgomery. Nominated for the Utah House of Representatives last year. Known to avoid the press and skip interviews; platform still unclear.
Randy Brinson: A Montgomery physician who founded the Christian youth voter registration movement “Redeem the Vote,” and who has served as head of the Alabama Christian Coalition. Promotes development of trade ties in Africa and Latin America.
Mo Brooks: A current U.S. Representative from Madison County, and the current no. 3 candidate in polls. Platform includes lowering national debt, securing borders and promoting free enterprise. Endorsed by conservative radio hosts Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin, U.S. Reps. Mike Rogers and Mark Meadows, and the Tea Party group, Alabama Patriots.
Dominic “Dom” Gentile: A Jefferson County businessman who promotes a flat tax and promises reduction of the power of the IRS. Refuses corporate contributions, and supports term limits; says he will run only once more if elected.
Mary Maxwell: A Massachusetts native who spent much of her adult life in Australia. A YouTube content creator who once ran for Congress in New Hampshire on a platform of “discovering the truth about 9/11.” Moved from Australia to Montgomery just to take part in this campaign.
Roy Moore: Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice removed from office for advising probate judges to ignore the U.S. Supreme Court’s order supporting same-sex marriage. Endorsed by former state Sen. Bill Armistead.
Bryan Peeples: A Jefferson County business manager and consultant with no political background. Three years younger than the youngest current senator. Says he is a fiscal conservative who supports small government and term limits.
Trip Pittman: A Baldwin County businessman and current state senator. Though an elected official, advertises himself as a successful businessman and political outsider who will help “drain the swamp” in Washington.
Luther Strange: The incumbent candidate, and former state attorney general. Endorsed by U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, the Alabama Farmers’ Federation and the National Rifle Association. Platform includes support of religious freedom, support of the Trump administration agenda and replacement of the Affordable Care Act.
Democratic Party candidates:
Will Boyd: A Lauderdale County resident and former Greenville, Illinois city councilman. Pastor of St. Marks Missionary Baptist Church in Florence, claims to differ from other Democrats by being pro-life and supporting second amendment gun rights.
Vann Caldwell: A Talladega County constable. Platform includes support for the Affordable Care Act, growing the economy, and support for the military and homeland security.
Jason Fisher: A Baldwin County businessman with no political background. After the loss of his wife, became an advocate for healthcare reform which is his main platform item. Promotes reform of the Affordable Care Act without replacement.
Michael Hansen: An openly gay Jefferson County activist and environmental nonprofit executive, whose political views have been compared to those of Bernie Sanders. Calls for an increase to the minimum wage, Medicare for all Americans, and an end to all discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Doug Jones: A former U.S. attorney for the northern district of Alabama, based in Jefferson County. An advocate for education, healthcare and LGBTQ rights, he is best known for his successful 2001 prosecution of two perpetrators of the 1963 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham.
Robert Kennedy, Jr.: No relation to the famous presidential Kennedy family. A Mobile marketing executive, a political unknown, even to party members in his home county. Supports the Affordable Care Act, but calls for reform. Opposes Trump’s border security plan, but supports second amendment gun rights.
Nana Tchienkou/Charles Nana: Born in Cameroon, a Jefferson County business consultant who won 44 percent of the vote in the Democratic party’s 2016 U.S. Senate primary. Supports a minimum wage hike, free college education and immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants. Calls for increased care for the poor and veterans.
Brian McGee: Will appear on the ballot, but dropped out of the race in July, throwing his support behind Doug Jones.
Election results for Cullman County will be tallied at the Cullman County Courthouse, on the third floor, after polls close. The public is welcome. Voters can also follow the results online at http://co.cullman.al.us/elections/electioncenter.html.
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