The Democratic Party is having a surge in interest from candidates this year, particularly for seats in the Legislature.
As the deadline for candidates to qualify for races on the 2018 ballot passed Friday, Alabama Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy Worley reported a big turnout of qualifying candidates.
“We had a very strong group of people qualify for federal and state seats,” she said.
She said county chairmen also reported strong results.
“We are going to see a very interesting primary with a strong field of nominees,” she said.
Worley said Doug Jones’ win in the race for U.S. Senate in December probably energized Democratic candidates to run this year.
“We’ve got a lot of strong active women running, a lot of young people running, and a lot who haven’t ever run before,” Worley said.
In fact, the party has seen a 45 percent jump in candidates qualifying to run for the state House of Representatives compared to the 2014 election. That year, the Democrats fielded 80 candidates in 62 House races. This year, it has 116 candidates in 75 races. In the Senate, the Democrats ran 28 candidates in 2014, compared to 31 this year.
The party has seen similar growth at the top of the ticket. In 2014, it had two candidates for governor and one each for attorney general, commissioner of agriculture and industries, lieutenant governor, secretary of state and auditor.
This year, it has six candidates running for governor alone. Another two are running for attorney general, two for secretary of state and one for auditor.
In races for the U.S. House of Representatives, the Democrats are running candidates for each of the seven seats. Districts, 1, 2, 3 and 4 have two Democratic candidates competing against each other in the June primary. In all, 11 candidates are running for Congress. In 2014, the party fielded six candidates in five races.
Republicans Still Dominate
Despite the growth in the Democratic Party candidate field, the Republicans are still the big dogs on the block. It’s running 16 candidates in the top constitutional races, for instance, and all of those officeholders now are Republican.
It has 128 candidates running in 81 races for the state House of Representatives and 46 candidates running in 28 Senate races. The Republicans hold a super majority in the Legislature.
It has 12 candidates running for the U.S. House and holds all of them now except for Rep. Terri Sewell’s District 7 seat.
Gov. Kay Ivey is running for re-election, facing five contenders on her own ticket. Sen. Slade Blackwell, R-Mountain Brook, is her latest rival, filing papers to run for the office before qualifying ended Friday.
Also running for the GOP nomination are Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle; Evangelist Scott Dawson; Sen. Bill Hightower, R-Mobile; and Michael McAllister.
On the Democratic side, six candidates are vying for nomination to the governor post: former Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb; Christopher A. Countryman; former Rep. James Fields of Cullman; Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox; Doug “New Blue” Smith, who ran for commissioner of agriculture and industries in 2014; Dothan businessman and minister Anthony White.
Several experienced people have lined up to run in the Attorney General’s race. Incumbent Steve Marshall is running for re-election, as is former Attorney General Troy King. Chief Deputy Attorney General Alice Martin, who was U.S. attorney for the northern district of Alabama for eight years, also has signed up for the race. Chess Bedsole, a former criminal court judge who also worked as senior counsel to the Department of Justice as Trump was moving in to the White House, rounds out the Republican candidates in the race.
On the Democratic side, the late surprise in the attorney general’s race was Joseph Siegelman’s entry in the race. In addition to being former Gov. Don Siegelman’s son, he is an attorney practicing with the Birmingham office of The Cochran Firm. Facing him on the primary ballot will be Chris Christie, a Birmingham attorney who has practiced criminal and civil law, is running for the office.
Several appellate court races also will be on the ballot, including the chief justice post. The Republicans have Tom Parker, a justice on the Supreme Court, and Lyn Stuart, who was appointed chief justice in 2016, after Roy Moore resigned from office after being suspended.
The Democrats also are fielding a candidate in the race, Jefferson County Judge Robert Vance Jr., who has been on the bench since 2002.
Judgeships across Jefferson County and the state will be up for grabs in this year’s election, as well.
Also up are the seats on the Jefferson County Commission and Places 2 and 3 on the county Board of Education. A list of candidates in those races can be found here, but the Jefferson County Democratic Party had not updated its list of candidates by early Saturday morning.