Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox wins Democratic nomination for governor
♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor
BIRMINGHAM (CFP) — Governor Kay Ivey cruised to an easy win in Alabama’s June 5 Republican primary, defeating three opponents without a runoff and clearing a major hurdle in her quest to win in her own right a job she inherited after her disgraced predecessor resigned.
However, in another closely watched race, U.S. Rep. Martha Roby will face a July 17 runoff for her seat in southeast Alabama’s 2nd District, after facing a backlash from her pointed criticism of President Donald Trump during last year’s presidential race.
In the GOP governor’s primary, Ivey took 56 percent of the vote to defeat Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, who won 25 percent, and Scott Dawson, an evangelist from Birmingham, with 14 percent.
Her Democratic opponent in November will Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox, who took 55 percent in the Democratic primary to defeat Sue Bell Cobb, former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court,
Ivey, 73, became governor in April 2017 after her predecessor, Robert Bentley, resigned amid allegations that he used state resources to try to hide an extramarital affair with a female aide, a scandal complete with salacious audio recordings that roiled state politics for months.
Ivey decided to seek the governorship in her own right after winning plaudits for her handling of the Bentley debacle and its aftermath. A Morning Consult poll earlier this year put her approval rating at 67 percent, making her one of the most popular governors in the country.
In the 2nd District GOP race, Roby took 39 percent, to 28 percent for Bobby Bright, a former Montgomery mayor who held the seat as a Democrat before losing it to Roby in 2010
State Rep. Barry Moore from Enterprise came in third at 19 percent, while Rich Hobson, the campaign manager for failed U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, managed just 8 percent.
Roby faced criticism from her opponents for being insufficiently supportive of Trump, stemming from her decision in October 2016 to rescind her endorsement of him after the infamous Access Hollywood tape surfaced in which Trump bragged about sexually accosting women, Roby said she would not vote for Trump because his “behavior makes him unacceptable as a candidate for president.”
But in November, almost 30,000 people cast write-in votes against Roby, reducing her vote total to just 49 percent of the vote in a strongly Republican district and virtually ensuring she would face a primary fight in 2018.
Roby, who has toned down her criticisms of Trump since the election, opened up a huge fundraising advantage, taking in $1.4 million — more than twice as much as all of her GOP opponents combined, according to the latest Federal Election Commission reports.
The winner of the runoff will be heavy favorite against Democrat Tabitha Isner from Montgomery, a pastor’s wife and business analyst for a software company who easily won the 2nd District Democratic primary.