MONTGOMERY, Ala. – In a close and heated race for Lieutenant Governor, State Rep. Will Ainsworth defeated Public Service Commission President Twinkle Cavanaugh in Tuesday’s GOP primary runoff.
Ainsworth won 51.49 percent of the vote to Cavanaugh’s 48.51 percent.
The race became especially intense toward the end as both campaigns exchanged accusations and name-calling over the airwaves.
In the last week running up to the Tuesday election, Cavanaugh’s campaign released an ad claiming Ainsworth had been arrested multiple times, including for theft of thousands of dollars in property.
Ainsworth aggressively refuted the veracity of the ad, claiming the accusations were blown out of proportion. According to Ainsworth, the theft arrest was for kidnapping a fiberglass tiger statue from the City of Auburn during a college prank while the other arrests merely amounted to citations.
Ainsworth attempted to turn the accusations into a positive by touring the state with a fiberglass tiger and fishing boat in tow, claiming Cavanaugh was “lying” about his record and calling her a “swamp Republican.”
As the dust settled Tuesday night, both candidates struck a friendlier tone.
“It’s an exciting time to live in Alabama,” Ainsworth told supporters in a speech to supporters in his home of Guntersville.
“The future is bright and I’m excited about the future. I’m going to serve with integrity and I’m going to work to be a lieutenant governor you can be proud of.”
Ainsworth said he wanted to focus on improving education and helping the state recruit industry. He also thanked Cavanaugh for her public service and said he looked forward to working with her.
At her concession speech in Montgomery, Cavanaugh congratulated Ainsworth and seemed to hold no animosity towards her opponent, saying that now is the time to put the past behind them and help the Republican nominee win the general election.
“The reality is, once the voters have spoken you don’t need to play Monday morning quarterback and now is the time to get on board and help the nominee become the lieutenant governor,” Cavanaugh told Alabama Daily News. “So I’m not going to look back and when God closes one door he opens another one and God just has another plan for me.”
When asked if she regrets now in hindsight sending out that last attack ad against Ainsworth she said, “I stand by everything I did in this campaign, and I don’t want to go back because now it is time to move forward and hopefully I can work with Governor Ivey and Will to make Alabama’s tomorrow a little brighter.”
Ainsworth will face Democratic nominee Will Boyd in November.