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More Democrats running in Alabama; Plus races to watch

By JAY REEVES, Associated Press

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Alabama’s primary ballot features multiple offices and something voters in the Republican-controlled state haven’t seen in years: Democratic races for statewide and congressional positions.

Alabama Democrats have 27 total candidates running for state positions or Congress this year, more than double the 13 from 2014. That means there are several Democratic primary races, compared to just one for a statewide office four years ago.

Many of the eventual Republican nominees will still run unopposed in the General Election because no Democrats qualified. But with Democratic opposition to President Donald Trump running high and after Democrat Doug Jones’ victory in Alabama’s U.S. Senate in December, the once-powerful party is trying to show signs of life.

Aside from the governor’s campaign, in which five Republicans and six Democrats are vying for their party’s nominations, here are some other races to watch:

Republican appointee Steve Marshall is facing voters for the first time in a statewide race as he seeks election to the office of attorney general, and it might not be easy.

Marshall, a former Marshall County district attorney, has served in the job since February 2017, when then-Gov. Robert Bentley tapped him after naming Luther Strange to the U.S. Senate. Marshall is being opposed in the GOP primary by Alice Martin, a former federal prosecutor who was the state’s chief deputy attorney general; Troy King, a former state attorney general and Birmingham lawyer Chess Bedsole.

Birmingham attorneys Joseph Siegelman and Chris Christie are vying for the Democratic nomination. Siegelman is the son of former Gov. Don Siegelman.

The attorney general is responsible for representing the state in criminal and civil matters, and the office often is a stepping-stone to other positions. Just ask U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a former Alabama attorney general.

Rep. Martha Roby’s bid to hold on to her District 2 seat from the Wiregrass region of southeastern Alabama for a fifth term highlights the state’s congressional primaries.

The House Appropriations Committee member is being opposed by candidates including Bobby Bright, who Roby defeated to claim the seat in 2010. Other opponents include Rich Hobson of Enterprise, who managed Roy Moore’s unsuccessful Senate campaign last year.

Roby gained Republican critics after distancing herself from Donald Trump’s vulgar comments about women during his presidential campaign in 2016.

The eventual GOP nominee will face either education researcher Tabitha Isner of Montgomery or activist and military veteran Audri Scott Williams of Cottonwood. They’re competing for the Democratic nomination in the Republican-dominated district.

Reps. Mo Brooks of Huntsville and Robert Aderholt of Haleyville also have challengers in the GOP primary, and Democrats have primaries in four districts in all. There was just one Democratic congressional primary in 2014.

Alabama has been without a lieutenant governor for more than a year, and the primary is a first step toward filling the office.

Alabama Public Service Commission president Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh is running in the Republican primary against two state legislators: Rep. Will Ainsworth of Guntersville and Sen. Rusty Glover of Mobile. Cavanaugh has outpaced other candidates in fundraising with nearly $1.1 million in total contributions through April.

The eventual Republican nominee will face Democratic minister Will Boyd, who lost the U.S. Senate primary against Doug Jones in the special election last year.

The office of lieutenant governor, who is president in the state Senate, has been vacant since April 2017, when Kay Ivey succeeded Robert Bentley as governor following his resignation and guilty plea amid a sex-tinged scandal.

Ethics is a top issue in the race as the Legislature looks to review Alabama’s ethics law next year and lawmakers currently face corruption charges.

The Alabama Supreme Court isn’t in the news as often as it used to be without Roy Moore as chief justice, but the primary ballot includes three contested races on the nine-member, all-Republican panel.

Current court members Lyn Stuart and Tom Parker are vying for the Republican nomination for chief justice. Stuart has been serving in the position since Moore’s suspension for violating judicial ethics and later resignation to run for the Senate.

Either Stuart or Parker will face Bob Vance Jr., a Jefferson County circuit judge who is unopposed for the Democratic nomination.

Court appointee Brad Mendheim is opposed by circuit judges Debra Jones of Anniston and Sarah Hicks Stewart of Mobile for the GOP nomination for Place 1 on the nine-member court.

And attorneys John Bahakel and Jay Mitchell of Birmingham are both seeking the Republican nomination for the Place 4 seat. The winner will face Democrat Donna Wesson Smalley in November.

Republicans are fighting over two seats on the Alabama State Board of Education, and the winners of both races will have Democratic opponents in the fall.

Four Republicans are running for the District 2 seat held by Betty Peters, who isn’t seeking re-election. They include former Dothan school board member Melanie Hill; Coffee County resident Sybil Little; John Taylor of Dothan; and Auburn City School Board President Tracie West.

The winner will face Democrat Adam Jortner in November.

Business executive and former Madison school board Rich McAdams and Wayne Reynolds, a retired educator and registered nurse from Athens, are seeking the Republican nomination in District 8. The seat is now held by Mary Scott Hunter, who is running for the Alabama Senate.

Jessica Fortune Barker is on the ballot as a Democrat in the General Election.

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