2018 Elections

Marshall Sweeps Up GOP Nomination for AG, Ainsworth for Lt. Gov.

Steve Marshall, who was appointed attorney general in 2017, easily held off former Attorney General Troy King on Tuesday to win the Republican nomination for the office.

In the GOP runoff for lieutenant governor, state Rep. Will Ainsworth of Guntersville defeated veteran party activist and officeholder Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh, who has served as president of the Alabama Public Service Commission since 2012.

Marshall will face Democrat Joseph Siegelman in the November general election for attorney general; Ainsworth meets Democrat Willie Boyd Jr. for lieutenant governor.

Marshall got 74.14 percent of the vote to King’s 25.86 percent, the Secretary of State’s Office reported.

Marshall and King engaged in a bitter campaign, accusing each other of not being “real” Republicans and failing to adequately support President Donald Trump. The incumbent suspended his campaign for about a week last month after the death of his wife, who committed suicide.

Marshall told supporters Tuesday night that he will campaign as a team with Gov. Kay Ivey in the fall.

Marshall, 53, is a former Democrat who was appointed district attorney in Marshall County by former Gov. Don Siegelman in 2001. He was elected to the post in 2004, 2010 and 2016. He switched to the Republican Party in 2011.

Marshall became attorney general in February 2017. Former Gov. Robert Bentley appointed Attorney General Luther Strange to succeed Jeff Sessions in the U.S. Senate and picked Marshall to succeed Strange.

King, 49, was appointed attorney general by then-Gov. Bob Riley in 2004, when Bill Pryor resigned to become a federal judge. He was elected attorney general in 2006 but lost to Strange in the 2010 Republican primary.

He previously had served as legal adviser to Riley and former Gov. Fob James.

The pair raised and spent millions of dollars during the closing weeks of the runoff campaign.

Marshall’s biggest financial supporter was the Republican Attorney Generals Association, which contributed $735,000. King earlier this month filed a lawsuit claiming RAGA’s contributions violated Alabama’s election laws, but the suit was dismissed.

The leading contributors to King’s campaign were six Tuscaloosa-based PACs that are chaired by Michael Echols. Those committees gave a total of $1.2 million to King.

In the contest for lieutenant governor, Ainsworth collected 57.84 percent of the votes to Cavanaugh’s 42.16 percent.

Will Ainsworth

Ainsworth and Cavanaugh were seeking nomination for an office that has been vacant since April 10, 2017, when Ivey was elevated from lieutenant governor to governor upon the resignation of Gov. Robert Bentley.

Ainsworth, who has been a member of the House of Representatives since 2014, on Tuesday night said he believes his campaign was successful because of his themes of improving education and creating jobs, and because, “I’m not a career politician.”

Cavanaugh, 52, first ran for political office in 2008, when she lost to Democrat Lucy Baxley in a bid for president of the Alabama Public Service Commission. Four years later, she ran again and defeated Baxley for the position.

She formerly was chairman of the Alabama Republican Party and senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to former Gov. Riley. She also worked for former U.S. Rep. Sonny Callahan of Mobile and for the Republican National Committee.

Ainsworth, 37, of Guntersville, is a former youth pastor at Grace Fellowship Church in Albertville, is co-owner of Dream Ranch, a sportsmen’s lodge in Marshall County, and was founder of the Tennessee Valley Hunting and Fishing Expo, an annual trade show.

Both Cavanaugh and Ainsworth helped finance their campaigns with personal loans. Ainsworth loaned $1 million to his campaign, while Cavanaugh and her husband loaned $500,000 to hers. Cavanaugh also transferred $582,916 from her aborted campaign for governor.

There were four other races on the statewide Republican runoff ballot, and those winners will face no Democratic opponents in the November general election.

State Supreme Court, Place 1

Circuit Court Judge Sarah Hicks Stewart of Mobile beat incumbent Brad Mendheim of Dothan for nomination to this post. Stewart got 61.63 percent of the vote to 38.37 percent for Mendheim.

Stewart has been a circuit judge since 2006. Mendheim was appointed to the position earlier this year by Ivey. He is a former circuit and district judge in Houston County.

Alabama Court of Civil Appeals, Place 1

 Christy Olinger Edwards of Montgomery defeated Michelle Manley Thomason of Fairhope to win nomination to this seat. Edwards led 53.67 percent to 46.33 percent.

Olinger is an Alabama Tax Court judge and former assistant state attorney general. Thomason, of Fairhope, has been presiding District Court judge of the 28th Judicial Circuit since 2006. There is no Democrat running for the post in November.

 Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 2 

Chris McCool of Gordo beat Rich Anderson of Montgomery in this judicial race. McCool claimed 63.49 percent of the vote to Anderson’s 36.51 percent.

McCool has been district attorney for the 24th Judicial Circuit since 2004. Anderson is a former law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Gorman Houston, private attorney and assistant attorney general.

There is no Democrat running for the seat in November.

 Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries

Lowndesboro Mayor Rick Pate defeated veteran state legislator Gerald Dial of Lineville to win the nomination. Pate claimed 60.40 percent of the votes cast, to 39.60 percent for Dial.

Pate, who has been mayor of the central Alabama town since 1997, is owner of a landscaping business and a working cattle farm and breeding operation.

Dial, a former Democrat, is majority whip in the Alabama Senate. He served in the House of Representatives from 1974 to 1983 and has been a member of the Senate since 1983.

No Democrat filed to run for the job in November.