2017 U.S. Senate Special Election
Sixteen people are actively running in what has become a contentious special election to represent Alabama in the U.S. Senate.
Luther Strange has been serving in that seat since former Sen. Jeff Sessions was appointed U.S. attorney general by President Donald Trump.
Other Republican contenders objected first to former Gov. Robert Bentley’s elevation of Strange from Alabama attorney general to U.S. senator, then to an early plan that would have let Strange serve in the Senate until next year’s general election, and now to the national Republican Party’s backing of Strange in the race.
Accusations have flown among candidates that the Republican contenders are trying to ‘out Trump’ each other, or, alternatively, that they have not been sufficiently supportive of the president. Most recently, some Republican candidates called on all the candidates to step out of the race and let Sessions, caught in an ongoing row with his new boss, take his seat back in the Senate if he’s either fired or fed up and wants to resign.
The Democratic side has been quieter, with candidates tending more to campaign against Republican policies rather than ripping into each other.
But it would be unusual for Alabama to send a Democrat to the Senate. The last Democrat elected to the U.S. Senate was Howell Heflin in 1990, before he retired in 1997.
The Senate race is the only one on the ballot for the Aug. 15 primaries. Eighteen candidates appear on the ballots, but two of them – Brian McGee on the Democratic ballot and Dom Gentile on the Republican ballot – withdrew from the race after the ballots had been printed. That leaves nine candidates actively seeking the Republican nomination and seven seeking the Democratic nomination.
If no candidate gets 50 percent of the vote in their party on Aug. 15, a runoff will be held Sept. 26.
This year for the first time, voters will be prohibited from crossing over and voting in a different party’s primary in the runoff than they did in the original election. In other words, if you vote in the Republican primary on Aug. 15, you could not vote in the Democratic runoff on Sept. 26, or vice versa.
The general election to select a new senator will be Dec. 12.
Candidate profiles, answers about issues, campaign contributor lists, info on where to vote and more. It’s all in the guide below.
Voter Guide Acknowledgements
The guide was reported by Glenn Stephens and edited and designed by Virginia Martin of BirminghamWatch.