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ALGOP to hear challenges in four legislative races

By MARY SELL, Alabama Daily News

The Alabama Republican Party will hold hearings in four challenges to the outcome of legislative primary elections, the party said Monday.

Those challenges are in House Districts 2, 28 and 29 and Senate District 27.

The House District 2 seat is open this year because Rep. Lynn Greer, R-Rogersville, is not seeking reelection. Jason Black and Ben Harrison advanced to a runoff and Kimberly Butler narrowly missed it.

In Etowah County, a ballot mix-up situation led House District 28 incumbent Rep. Gil Isbell and House District 29 candidate Jamie Grant to challenge the results of their elections. Certified results show former legislator Mack Butler defeating Isbell by 219 votes. In House District 29, Mark Gidley beat Grant by 74 votes.

Both Isbell and Grant are asking the party to hold their elections again during the primary runoff elections on June 21. Isbell’s attorney, Kirkland Mattei, on Monday told Alabama Daily News a hearing in that challenge has been set for June 25.

Errors made after the redrawing of State House district lines last year caused some voters in Etowah County to receive the wrong ballots on May 24. Officials have said they don’t yet know how many ballots were impacted.

The result of the Senate District 27 race in east Alabama has been challenged to the ALGOP after incumbent Sen. Tom Whatley lost by one vote to Auburn City Council member Jay Hovey. Whatley and his campaign have not commented on his challenge. The Outlook in Alexander City reported that Whatley has asked for a recount in one precinct in Tallapoosa County. Meanwhile, the newspaper reported that Whatley’s father, Charles Whatley, contested the outcome to the ALGOP.

“I contest the nomination of Mr. Hovey based upon the casting of illegal votes in his favor and the rejection of legal votes in favor of Tom Whatley,” Charles Whatley said in a letter to the party. “The number of which would be sufficient to rightfully change the vote totals in favor of naming Tom Whatley as the nominee for the party.”

According to the newspaper,Whatley said there was “malconduct on behalf of the inspector, canvassing board and/or others involved in the process of tallying, certifying and/or canvassing of votes.”

A fifth challenge in House District 1, where incumbent Rep. Phillip Pettus, R-Greenhill, beat challenger Maurice McCaney by 360 votes, was dismissed by the party.

The challenges filed with the state party are different from requests for recounts that are filed at the county party level. The deadline for both was Thursday.

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