Steve Flowers: A fun election year – every statewide office is up for grabs

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Every constitutional statewide office is up for election this year. Just like the governor’s office you can serve two consecutive four-year terms and then you are through.

Kay Ivey would have been term limited as Lt. Governor. She could not have run again for that post even though she ascended to governor last year. Young Boozer has served his two four-year term limit as Treasurer. Young has chosen to not run again for anything. John McMillan has exhausted his eight-years as Agriculture Commissioner. He is running for State Treasurer and is favored to win that post. John Merrill can run for another four-year term as Secretary of State, which is what he is doing. The same is true for State Auditor, Jim Zeigler.

The Attorney General’s office was vacated by Luther Strange when then Governor, Robert Bentley, appointed him to Jeff Sessions’ Senate Seat. With the vacancy in the Attorney General’s office, Bentley plucked an obscure former District Attorney named Steve Marshall to serve the remainder of Luther Strange’s term.  Marshall is seeking election to a full term. However, he is not expected to fare well in a very competitive race for this coveted post. Marshall’s only claim to fame is that he was appointed to the post by Robert Bentley and that is not a very good calling card.  A Republican is favored 60-to-40 in this Attorney General contest.

Former Attorney General, Troy King, is the favorite to win the GOP Primary and ultimately a four-year term.  Name identification is a precious commodity in these secondary statewide offices. King’s name ID surpasses the rest of the field.

Alice Martin could give Troy King a run for his money. She is a veteran well qualified prosecutor who was the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama for the better part of a decade. Being from North Alabama gives her some invaluable name identification in her hometown of Florence, but more importantly in Birmingham.

Chess Bedsole, who is a Birmingham attorney, has roots in Mobile and was an integral part of the Trump campaign, could be a player. He will have to spend a good bit of personal money to get into the mix.

The winner of the GOP Primary will be favored. However, they will probably be met by a well-known Democratic name in November. Joseph Siegelman is running for AG as a Democrat. Young Siegelman, who is only 30, will be favored to win the Democratic nomination over another Birmingham Attorney, Chris Christie.

The office of Lt. Governor is currently vacant. This post does very little except wait for the Governor to die or be removed from office. Therefore, we have not been devastated by the vacancy.

If the Attorney General’s race is dependent upon name identification, the Lt. Governor’s post is doubly reliant on this precious commodity. There are three good people seeking the GOP mantle.

PSC President Twinkle Cavanaugh, Mobile State Senator Rusty Glover, and Sand Mountain State Representative Will Ainsworth.

Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh is the prohibitive favorite in this race. She is sitting in the catbird’s seat and could win without a runoff. She has run and been elected several times statewide. She has also been head of the State Republican Party and has built a statewide organization. Her statewide name identification dwarfs her two opponents.

Will Ainsworth is said to have personal money that he is willing to invest. If he does, he could challenge Twinkle. Ainsworth has received the Farm Bureau endorsement, which is a coup.

Anyone who has ever met State Senator Rusty Glover likes him. If he could meet every voter in the state, most would vote for him.  However, that would be hard for him to do.

The race for Agriculture Commissioner will be a quiet contest. Veteran State Senator Gerald Dial, who has represented East Alabama well for four decades is the favorite. He is facing Lowndesboro Mayor and lifetime farmer, Rick Pate, who garnered the Farm Bureau endorsement. Tracey Crane is a former FBI agent from Jefferson County. He may benefit from being first on the ballot, which is an advantage in down ballot races where none of the candidates are known.

John Merrill will easily win reelection as Secretary of State. He is probably the best retail politician in the state and maybe the most popular.

Jim Ziegler is running for a second four-year term as State Auditor. He makes it interesting around the Capitol.

It will be a fun year.

See you next week.

•••

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 www.steveflowers.us.

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