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Few Surprises in March 5th Primary Results

Inside the Statehouse

There were very few surprises in our March 5 primary results. Since we are essentially a one-party Republican state when it comes to presidential, national, and statewide politics, most of the action was in the GOP Primary.

The big winners were Donald Trump, Barry Moore and Sarah Stewart.

As expected, Donald Trump trounced all his GOP “would be” challengers in the Heart of Dixie. The former president received 84% of the vote in our Alabama Primary and will probably win our state by around a 63% to 37% margin in the November General Election rematch against the hapless Joe Biden, if indeed Biden makes it to the fall contest.

The biggest surprise was Congressman Barry Moore’s upset victory over fellow GOP Congressman Jerry Carl in the newly drawn 1st Congressional District. These two conservative U.S. House members were thrown into the same district with the federal courts decision to redraw our congressional lines in an attempt to create a new majority minority district.

When the new 1st Congressional District was dictated, it was assumed by casual observers, pundits, and Washington insiders that Jerry Carl would easily win reelection because on paper he was the incumbent. He was the sitting congressman in the old 1st district and two-thirds of the people in that House seat were his constituents. The other one-third of the new district is comprised of the Wiregrass counties of Houston, Henry, Geneva, Coffee, Dale, and Covington.

When you corral this conservative Wiregrass region with the very conservative, populous Baldwin County, you have created one of the most conservative Republican congressional districts in the nation. The key to Moore’s slim victory was his ability to penetrate some of the large Baldwin County vote and convince them that he was more conservative than Carl.

However, the essential key was that Moore rode a tremendous wave of “friends and neighbors” support from his home folks in the Wiregrass.

He ran through the Wiregrass like a scalded dog. He got a whopping 74% in Covington County, 78% in Houston and Dale counties, 82% in Geneva, and racked up 84% of the vote in his home county of Coffee. Looks like the folks in the Wiregrass stood up and said, “Not so fast Mobile, we would like to have a congressman from our neighborhood if you don’t mind.” Moore beat Carl 52% to 48% and will go back to Washington as the Congressman from the 1st Congressional District of Alabama rather than the 2nd Congressional District.

Our other three seniority laden and thus powerful Republican Congressman are Robert Aderholt, Mike Rogers, and Gary Palmer. All coasted to landslide reelection victories.

Robert Aderholt, a veteran of 28 years in the U.S. House, won with 87% of the vote in his 4th Congressional District.

Mike Rogers, the current Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee who hails from Calhoun County and is closing in on 20 years in the U.S. House beat back two opponents with 81% of the vote.

Jefferson-Shelby County Congressman Gary Palmer garnered a very impressive 84% of the vote against two viable opponents in his reelection to his sixth two-year term. He is moving up in power and prestige in the U.S. House.

Justice Sarah Stewart won an impressive 61% to 39%, stomping of her opponent Bryan Taylor in her race to become Alabama’s Supreme Court Chief Justice. She is imminently qualified for this very important position in Alabama government. The Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court not only renders important judicial decisions, along with the eight other members, they are also the administrator of the entire state judicial system. Sarah has served six years as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court and prior to that was a Circuit Judge in Mobile for 16 years.

Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh was reelected to her fourth four-year term as President of the Alabama Public Commission with the same 61% to 39% margin of victory as Sarah Stewart.

Alabama Court of Civil Appeals Judge Chad Hanson won reelection to his second term with a 56% to 44% margin of victory.

Rich Anderson defeated fellow Assistant Attorney General Thomas Govan by a similar 56% to 44% margin in a race for a place on the Court of Criminal Appeals. This was an open being vacated by popular jurist Chris McCool who is moving up to the State Supreme Court.

Next week, we will discuss the most hotly contested race this year, the contest for the new 2nd Congressional District.

See you next week.

Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at


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