A voter’s guide to the Republican runoff races

Republican voters will choose their candidates on Tuesday in three major statewide races that have featured relatively few policy differences but constant shelling on all sides. 

The GOP will select nominees for attorney general, lieutenant governor and agriculture and industries commissioner. The winner of the agriculture commissioner race should be the next occupant of that office; no Democrat qualified for the race. The winner of the race for attorney general will face Democratic nominee Joseph Siegelman in the general election. The victor in the lieutenant governor’s race will face Democratic nominee Will Boyd. 

Polls will open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday. Those who cast ballots in the June 5th Republican primary, or those who didn’t vote that day, are eligible to vote in the GOP runoff. People who voted in the Democratic runoff cannot vote in the Republican races. 

ATTORNEY GENERAL

Steve Marshall (incumbent)

Age: 53

Profession: Attorney

Education: B.A., American Studies, University of North Carolina, 1987; J.D., University of Alabama School of Law, 1990.

Offices held/offices sought: Marshall County District Attorney, 2001-2017; Alabama Attorney General, 2017-present.

Finances: Through Friday afternoon, Marshall had raised over $1 million for the runoff, with major contributions coming from the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), the Business Council of Alabama and construction and forestry groups. He spent just under $917,000. 

Troy King

Age: 49

Profession: Attorney

Education: B.A., History and Social Sciences, Troy University, 1990; J.D., University of Alabama School of Law, 1994.

Offices held/offices sought: Alabama Attorney General, 2004-2011.

Finances: King raised $779,563 between June 5 and Friday. His major source of revenue came from a handful of political action committees run by Tuscaloosa account Michael Echols, which get funding from many different sources. He spent $632,460.

Primary results: Marshall got 29 percent of the vote in the June 5 GOP primary, with King getting 28 percent. Just 3,000 votes separated the candidates, out of more than 543,000 cast.

Policies: Both Marshall and King say they want to work with different levels of law enforcement in fighting crime. King says he will use “experience and proven policies” to address crime, though he was vague on the details. Marshall says he is pursuing partnerships with federal officials to address the situation. Marshall has also pledged to work to implement recommendations from a council studying opioid addiction and has highlighted his joining lawsuits on immigration. King says he will expand state lawsuits against opioid manufacturers. Both men have said they want to strengthen the Alabama Ethics Act.

Attacks: King filed a lawsuit against Marshall claiming that donations to the incumbent’s campaign from RAGA violated state ethics laws. Montgomery Circuit Judge James Anderson dismissed the lawsuit for lack of jurisdiction earlier this week. King has also accused Marshall, who became a Republican in 2011, of being a “Democrat attorney general.”

Marshall has accused King of engaging in “fake news” and highlighted his loss in the 2010 Republican primary, saying voters were tired of “political stunts.”

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR

Will Ainsworth

Age: 37

Profession: Business owner

Education: B.S., Marketing, Auburn University, 2004.

Offices held/offices sought: Alabama House of Representatives, 2014-present.

Finances: Through Friday, Ainsworth raised $863,204 for the runoff, most of that coming from $650,000 worth of personal loans. He also raised funds from forestry and business groups. Ainsworth spent $944,582 during that time (the number includes funds raised during the primary). 

Twinkle Cavanaugh

Age: 52

Profession: Business owner/government official

Education: B.S., Biology and Secondary Education, Auburn University, 1989

Offices held/offices sought: Republican candidate for Alabama State Treasurer, 2002; Chairwoman, Alabama Republican Party, 2005-2007; Republican nominee for President of the Public Service Commission, 2008; Commissioner, Public Service Commission, 2010-2012; President, Public Service Commission, 2012-present.

Finances: Cavanaugh raised just under $700,000 from the June 5 primary through Friday, with the Business Council of Alabama and the Alabama Nursing Home Association being major sources of funds.  She spent $786,110, including funds raised during the primary. 

Primary results: Cavanaugh got 43.3 percent of the vote on June 5, while Ainsworth got 37.1 percent. The candidates were separated by about 34,000 votes out of 550,000 votes cast.

Policies: The lieutenant governor has limited powers, but both candidates have promised to work to promote business development. Each has stressed their conservative orthodoxy on abortion rights and gun access. Ainsworth has said he wants to help rural schools gain access to technology. Cavanaugh has said she wants to audit state spending. 

Attacks: Cavanaugh has run ads highlighting Ainsworth’s arrest while an undergraduate at Auburn and highlighted criticisms Ainsworth made of then-candidate Donald Trump in February 2016. Ainsworth says the arrest was a “stupid college prank” involving the theft of fiberglass tigers; he paid fines and did community service. Ainsworth in February 2016 supported Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for president, but said later he supported Trump. 

Ainsworth has accused Cavanaugh of being a “career politician” and a corporate lobbyist. He also accused Cavanaugh of supporting Amendment One in 2003, a measure that would have raised more revenue for the state while attempting to improve the fairness of the tax system. Then-Gov. Bob Riley, a Republican, backed the measure. Cavanaugh was a Riley staffer at the time.

Agriculture and Industries Commissioner

Rick Pate

Age: 63

Profession: Business owner

Education: Bachelor’s degree, Auburn University, 1978

Offices held/offices sought: Mayor of Lowndesboro, 1997-present.

Finances: Pate raised $183,100 between June 5 and Friday. At least $65,000 came from the Alabama Farmers Federation. He spent $153,263.

Gerald Dial

Age: 80

Profession: Real estate developer

Education: B.S., Livingston State University; E.D., Jacksonville State University.

Offices held/offices sought: Alabama House of Representatives, 1974-1982; Alabama Senate, 1983-2006 and 2010-present.

Finances: Dial raised $104,475 from June 5 through July 6, with $50,000 of that coming from his own pockets. He spent $180,744, including funds from the primary. 

Primary results: Pate took 40.4 percent of the primary vote on June 5; Dial took 30 percent. The two men were separated by about 46,000 votes out of about 448,000 cast.

Issues: Pate and Dial have both expressed some wariness about Trump’s moves toward increased tariffs, though Pate says he wants negotiations to ensure fairer trade deals. Pate has also called for fewer regulations on farmers. Dial wants to draw down more federal dollars for farms and promote Alabama agricultural products in Cuba.

Attacks: Dial has aired an ad using a 1986 divorce proceeding between Pate and his then-wife, Carolyn Dudley, in which his wife accused Pate of committing “actual violence to her person, and got a restraining order. Pate denied the charge at the time and told the Decatur Daily earlier this month he was never violent to his wife. Dudley appeared in an ad for Pate where she called Dial’s ad “a lie, an untruth, and a distortion of the facts” and says she would vote for Pate.

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