Last week I gave a rundown on the candidates competing to become Alabama’s next lieutenant governor. This week I’ll explore what is shaping up to probably be the most exciting statewide political race of 2018, that for attorney general.
Four candidates are vying for the Republican nomination to become or remain Alabama’s next attorney general and another two are competing to win the Democratic nomination.
Some recent polling provided to me shows former Attorney General Troy King maintaining a lead over the other Republican Primary candidates, which includes current Attorney General Steve Marshall, former U.S. Attorney Alice Martin and Criminal Court Judge Chess Bedsole. But this race is considered a toss up with most political pundits unsure of which two make the runoff.
Troy King is seeking a return to the post he held for six years. He was appointed attorney general in 2004 by then-Gov. Bob Riley when Bill Pryor became a federal judge. He subsequently won the office in 2006, but lost the 2010 GOP primary to Luther Strange. Prior to being attorney general he served as legal advisor to former Gov. Fob James and former Gov. Bob Riley. He has been in private practice since leaving public office.
Attorney General Steve Marshall was a district attorney for 16 years in Marshall County, serving 10 of those years as a Democrat before switching political parties in 2011. Former Gov. Robert Bentley named him attorney general last year after Bentley appointed Luther Strange to the U.S. Senate. More recently, Marshall got swept into the #MeToo conversation when old news resurfaced about him failing to protect an employee from a predatory supervisor during his time as District Attorney in Marshall County. Some of his opponents have also pounced on the fact that Marshall is being supported by and has received a number of large campaign contributions from several with close ties to convicted former Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard.
Alice Martin served as U.S. attorney for the northern district of Alabama from 2001 to 2009 after being nominated by President George W. Bush. She also served as chief deputy in the attorney general’s office under Strange, but is best known for overseeing a string of corruption investigations including the two-year college system and the financial fraud case involving HealthSouth while U.S. attorney.
Chess Bedsole, is from a wealthy south Alabama timber family, a former Jesse Helms staffer, Jeff Sessions campaign manager and state director for President Trump during the 2016 presidential race. He also is the lesser known of the four candidates.
The two men running to be the Democratic nominee for Attorney General are Joseph Siegelman, son to former Governor Don Siegelman and Chris Christie, not to be confused with the former governor of New Jersey. Both men practice law in Birmingham.
In the race for campaign riches Marshall leads the pack with $820 thousand reported on hand at the end of March. Bedsole is a surprising second with $805 thousand, but at closer glance I see that $600 thousand of that is a campaign loan from himself, which I doubt he spends. Martin reported $449 thousand in the bank and King, who got in the race late, shows a balance of $331 thousand.
On the Democratic side Siegelman and Christie each reported having around $40 thousand on hand. Siegelman was a late arrival, entering the race on the last day of qualifying. Name identification alone will probably carry him to victory in the June 5 Democratic Primary.
Even with some polling showing King in the lead, Marshall is expected to continue raking in the dollars, as the power of incumbency proves its worth, even when it comes by appointment from a disgraced former governor. The mud has already begun to sling in this race and it is anyone’s guess which two candidates advance to the runoff to decide who will face the winner on the Democratic side in November.
Similar to my advice last week, I suggest that you don’t rely on slick mail pieces and sensational 30-second campaign spots, but that you put your Google skills to use and educate yourself on each candidate.