AL GOP Runoff Today

Birmingham News editorial board

What’s this? Voter interest in party primary runoffs?

It could happen, according to Secretary of State Beth Chapman, with turnout today approaching the level of the primary. Chapman cites the Republican runoff races for governor and agriculture commissioner for creating voter excitement — if by excitement she means 1 in 3 registered voters will bother to vote today. On June 1, voter turnout was about 33 percent, she has said.

Question is, will most of today’s larger-than-expected turnout be fueled by the Alabama Education Association’s effort to get its members out to vote? (Bradley Byrne accuses the AEA, headed by two Democratic Party officials, of trying to hijack the Republican gubernatorial race to give his opponent, Robert Bentley, the nomination.) Or will the turnout be driven by Byrne and Republican Party officials’ efforts to get Republicans out to vote?

The Republican Party allows people who voted in the Democratic primary on June 1 to cross over and vote in the GOP runoff. If the AEA is successful, Bentley wins. If the counterattack brings out Republicans in droves, Byrne could be the Republican nominee to face Democrat Ron Sparks in November.

Byrne picked a fight with the AEA as a central theme of his campaign, and the teachers lobby responded. Hundreds of thousands of AEA campaign dollars funded malicious attack ads, and AEA head Paul Hubbert and other AEA officials urged the group’s 105,000 members to vote against Byrne.

Hubbert, a vice chairman in the Democratic Party, said his group is just showing good citizenship by encouraging people to vote today. Apparently, he said this with a straight face.

Hubbert is right about one thing, though. Voting today does show good citizenship. We’re not wild about the idea of Democrats crossing over trying to sway the Republican gubernatorial race, but the Republican Party has no rule against it.

We have always believed the more the merrier at the ballot box, and have encouraged people to exercise one of their most precious constitutional rights. We do so again today.

By the way, there really is a Democratic primary runoff today with important races. Below, we offer a list of those state and local candidates in both parties endorsed by The News’ editorial board.

Polls are open today from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Show that you’re a good citizen. Go vote.

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