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Candidates for empty Senate seat to include former Rep. Knight, a different Burkette

By MARY SELL, Alabama Daily News

The special election field to replace former state Sen. David Burkette, D-Montgomery, who resigned Tuesday and was arrested Thursday, will include several familiar names.

Candidates include former Rep. John Knight, who lost special and regular elections to Burkette in 2018, and Burkette’s wife, Linda Burkett, Alabama Daily News confirmed Thursday. 

Senate District 26 includes most of the city of Montgomery and northeast Montgomery County.

Gov. Kay Ivey has set the special primary election for Tuesday, November 17, 2020. A special primary runoff, if necessary, will be Tuesday, December 15, 2020 and and the special general election for Tuesday, March 2, 2021.

The deadline for qualifying with major political parties will be Tuesday, September 15, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. The deadline for all independent candidates and/or minor parties is Tuesday, November 17, 2020 at 5:00 p.m.

Burkette was arrested on charges of violating Alabama’s Fair Campaign Practices Act, accused of failing to properly deposit campaign contributions in the proper bank account during his run for Montgomery City Council in 2015 and 2016. Alabama Daily News confirmed on Tuesday that Burkette was resigning because of concerns over his health – he had a stroke in 2018 shortly after winning a four-year term – and discussions with prosecutors who have been investigating potential ethics violations. 

Knight was a member of the House of Representatives for 1992 until 2018 when he ran for Senate.

“I’m ready,” Knight told Alabama Daily News on Thursday when asked if he’s running. Knight is now on the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. He said he’d give that seat up if necessary to serve in the Senate. 

“I think it’s a very important seat for the City of Montgomery and a chance to do some progressive things for the state that need to get done,” Knight said. 

In the House, Knight advocated for eliminating the sales tax on groceries and education funding reform.

Linda Burkette on Thursday said she’s running because since her husband’s time on the city council, she’s been doing the work beside him.

“Since 2007, I’ve been right there,” Linda Burkett said. “I’ve done everything but sat in the seat.” 

Linda Burkette said Thursday it was because of his health that David Burkette needed to resign. 

“But we can’t let the people go,” she said. “My heart is with the constituents.” 

State Rep. Tashina Morris, a lawmaker since 2018, also confirmed to ADN she plans to run in the special election. 

“For me, it’s giving me a larger platform to be heard and help the community and serve Alabama as a whole,” Morris said. In the House, she’s one of 105 members. There are 35 senators.

More mental health resources for schools and early voting are some of her priorities.

Fellow freshman Rep. Kirk Hatcher said he will make an announcement soon about whether he’s running.

Insurance agent Malcolm Calhoun said Thursday he’s definitely considering the possibility of a run.

“I have a professional and career background that I think would be beneficial to the position,” Calhoun said Thursday. “I do have a desire to serve the community. I want to be a force of positive change for the community and constituents of District 26, and I know the best way to do that is from within the system.” 

Montgomery County Commissioner Daniel Harris Jr. said Thursday he’s undecided on a run. 

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