Alabama Primary Runoffs Preview

USA Election Watch
5 min readJul 17, 2018


Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District Republican Runoff (Republican Defense, Incumbent Running)

Candidates: Martha Roby (Incumbent), Bobby Bright

Overview: Congresswoman Martha Roby is the incumbent here, but she faces an extremely serious threat. Back in 2016, following the Access Hollywood tape being released, Roby unendorsed Donald Trump. Some ultra-conservatives mounted a write-in campaign (not for one specific person) and as a result shaved her margin of victory in this Trump+32 district to just 8.3% over Democrat Nathan Mathis. While the same scenario isn’t super likely to happen in the general election this year, she does face a very serious threat from former Democratic Rep. Bobby Bright, who is running as a Republican this time around. Bright was a one-term Democratic Congressman from the district from 2009–2011, and was defeated by Roby in his 2010 re-election bid. Now he’s running as a Republican and has a very good shot against Roby. Roby and Bright took 39% and 28% in the June primary to get into the runoff, respectively. Normally Roby’s low % in the primary would doom her in this runoff, but Bright being a former Democrat (and having voted for Nancy Pelosi for Speaker in 2009) may be enough to save her. This is a tossup, and since we don’t have any public polling, we can’t do much more than an educated guess.

Prediction: Martha Roby wins with 52% of the vote.

Lieutenant Governor Republican Runoff (Republican Defense, Incumbent Not Running)

Candidates: Twinkle Cavanaugh, Will Ainsworth

Overview: The Lieutenant Governor seat has remained vacant for over a year in Alabama, ever since previous incumbent Kay Ivey became Governor, replacing the scandal-plagued Robert Bentley. Former State Party Chair and current PSC chair Twinkle Cavanaugh has been the favorite in this race for a while and received 43% in a large field of candidates. She has been greatly helped by establishment backing from her time as state party chair as well as connections to the evangelical Christian base of Deep South Conservatism. However, she has faced a strong challenge from Will Ainsworth, a slightly more conservative and antiestablishment state legislator from the Northeastern part of the state. Ainsworth received 37% in the first round, gaining significant support in the north as well as in Jackson County (Birmingham area). If he can drive up turnout a bit in those areas and stay close everywhere else, he has a very good chance of pulling off the upset.

Prediction: Twinkle Cavanaugh wins with 52% of the vote

Attorney General Republican Runoff (Republican Defense, Incumbent Running)

Candidates: Steve Marshall (incumbent), Troy King

Overview: This is another runoff that was made more interesting by the resignation of Robert Bentley. Just before Bentley resigned, he appointed previous AG Luther Strange to the Senate and replaced him with Steve Marshall. We all know how that move went, with Strange eventually losing his special election primary to Roy Moore, who in turn shockingly lost the seat to Democrat Doug Jones. You’d think Marshall would be the underdog given the circumstances of his appointment, and he did only receive 28.4% in the first round. However, he is actually the favorite due to who he is facing off against. Troy King is a former AG himself, having served from 2004–2010, being ousted in a 2010 primary by Strange. King was known for intense social conservatism and also for scandal. This has made Marshall the establishment favorite at this point, given his more moderate tendencies. King, on the other hand, has played up his antiestablishment ties in an effort to court Trump voters, also getting an endorsement from Roy Moore. King also received 27.6% in the primary, so the runoff should be very close, but my gut says Marshall still wins

Prediction: Steve Marshall wins with 55% of the vote

State Senate (Republican Defense)

Overview: In District 6, one of the top Democratic targets, the current Republican incumbent Larry Stutts has been forced into a runoff with Steve Lolley after receiving 47% in the primary. Stutts has had some ethics problems so he could conceivably lose. In District 7, Deidra Willis was just 23 votes short of winning the Democratic primary outright, making her a heavy favorite over Deboarah Barros, who received 30%. In District 13, Randy Price is favored to win the Republican runoff for the open seat after leading Mike Sparks 47–37 in the primary. In District 26, Incumbent David Burkette faces one final hurdle after pulling off an upset to win a special election primary and later easily winning the special general election. Burkette led the man he defeated in the special election, State Representative John Knight, 47–33 in the primary. In District 32, Chris Elliot and David Northcutt are both strong candidates for this open GOP defense, but Elliot is the slight favorite due to his 39–32 advantage.

State House (Republican Defense)

Overview: In District 17, Tracy Estes led Phil Seagraves 44–31 after the Republican primary for this open seat, but the race is wide open since Seagraves has grabbed a lot of support from the third primary candidate. In District 30, another open seat Republican runoff, Robert McKay is the slight favorite after leading Craig Lipscomb 34–25 in the primary. In District 38, yet another open Republican runoff, Debbie Wood led Todd Rauch 47–41 in the primary and probably will win given that she only needs 3% more. In District 54, Neil Rafferty is almost certain to win the Democratic primary runoff after leading Jacqueline Miller in the primary 49–28. In District 77, Malcolm Calhoun is favored to win the Democratic runoff, having the endorsement of the previous incumbent and a 36–26 lead in the primary over Tashina Morris. In District 78, longtime Democratic representative Alvin Holmes could be in serious danger of losing his seat, after leading Kirk Hatcher just 46–38 in the Democratic primary. In District 81, the Republican runoff is wide open, with Terry Martin and Ed Oliver finishing at 35–34 in the first round. In District 82, incumbent Democrat Pebblin Warren looks set to retain her seat despite a scare from her predecessor Johnny Ford, having defeated him 49–31 in the primary. In District 83, Patsy Jones is slightly favored in the Democratic runoff after leading Jeremy Gray 42–30 in the primary. In District 88, Will Dismukes seems likely to hold on to his 45–36 primary advantage over Al Booth in the Republican runoff. In District 91, Rhett Marques also looks like a strong Republican runoff favorite after a 46–30 primary lead over Lister Reeves. Finally, in District 102, Shane Stringer is a slight Republican runoff favorite over Willie Gray after leading in the primary 49–44.

Special thanks to Chris Luongo (@politicsluo on twitter) for his work on the AL-02 preview.



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