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2017-08-09 / Front Page

Special election for Senate seat set for Aug. 15

by Ron Gholson

On Tuesday, Aug. 15, nine Republicans and seven Democrats will compete in their respective primary elections for the Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions when he was confirmed in February to serve as United States Attorney General. A runoff election will be held, if necessary, on Sept 26, in the event a single candidate from either or both parties does not receive more than 50 percent of the vote in the Aug. 15 primary. Absentee ballot application deadline is Aug. 10, for the Aug. 15 election.

Crossover voting prohibited

In May, Gov. Kay Ivey signed a law prohibiting voters from casting a ballot for one party in the Aug. 15 primary, then crossing over to vote in the other party’s runoff. In other words, if you vote Republican in the Aug. 15 election, you cannot vote Democratic in the Sept. 26 runoff – and vice versa – assuming runoffs are necessary.

Don’t worry about how officials will develop the information necessary to enforce the law. No attempt will be made here to explain the challenges. But, they’re working to collect the necessary data and conduct the necessary training to have the means of enforcement in effect in time. The Special General Election for the Senate seat is Dec. 12. It is not affected by the crossover voting law.

A list of candidates for each party and a short profile of each candidate follows, substantially condensed from Birmingham Watch, public service reporting from the Alabama Initiative for Independent Journalism.

Republican Party candidates

James Paul Beretta, 58, Indian Springs. Anesthesiologist practicing in Pelham. No previous political offices held. Education resume lists extensive professional training and certifications in medical field. Boy Scout leader; coaches youth baseball and hockey. www.jamesberetta2017.com

Joseph F. Breault, 30, Prattville. U.S. Air Force Reserve Chaplain on active duty, 2015 to present. No previous political offices held. Experience in Army, Navy, and Air Force as religious program specialist/chaplain. Education resume includes master of divinity from school of theology and master of arts in public policy from Liberty University. No website.

Randy Brinson, 50, Montgomery. Gastroenterologist in private medical practice 1989-present. No previous political offices held. Founder of voter registration organization Redeem the Vote; board member, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and University of Mobile. Education resume lists Valdosta State University, University of Florida Medical School, Medical College of Georgia. www.votebrinson.com

Mo Brooks, 63, Huntsville. U.S. Representative, Alabama 5th Congressional District, since 2011. Held political offices at county, state, and federal level; served as state special assistant attorney general under Attorney Generals Jeff Sessions and Bill Pryor. Education resume: Bachelor’s degree in political science and economic from Duke University; law degree from The University of Alabama School of Law. www.mobrooksforsenate.com

Mary W. Maxwell, 70, Tuscaloosa. Author of books on evolutionary biology and law, and plays on freeing wrongly jailed men. No previous political offices held; ran for U. S. Representative in New Hampshire. Lived in Australia 20 years, later in Middle East. Education includes bachelor’s and master’s degrees in liberal arts, followed by law school. www.maxwellforsenate.com

Roy S. Moore, 70, Gallant. Political offices held include two stints as chief justice of Alabama Supreme Court, removed once by federal authorities and once by suspension and resignation. Circuit judge in Etowah County, 1992- 2000. Experience includes two unsuccessful runs for governor. Education includes bachelor’s degree in arts and engineering from U.S. Military Academy at West Point and law degree from The University of Alabama School of Law. www.roymoore.org

Bryan Peeples, 37, Birmingham. CEO of Peeples Consulting, aimed at small and mid-size restaurants/hotels. No previous political offices held. No information available on educational background. No information on civic activities. Extensive opinions issued on current issues. www.bryanpeeples.com

Trip Pittman, 57, Montrose. Founder and owner of Pittman Tractor Company. Served in Alabama Senate 2007-present. Member Baldwin County Planning and Zoning Commission and affiliate of Alabama Policy Institute and Coastal Conservation Association; member Bayside Academy Board of Trustees. Holds bachelor’s degree in commerce and business from The University of Alabama. www.tripforsenate.com

Luther Strange, 64, Montgomery. Alabama attorney general, 2010-present. Appointed 2017 to fill Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions. Registered lobbyist for Sonat and Transocean Offshore Drilling Company; member advisory board of U. S. Merchant Marine Academy and board of trustees of Talladega College. Court-appointed counsel for gulf states following Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Holds bachelor of arts degree from Tulane University and law degree from Tulane Law School. www.lutherstrange.com Democratic Party candidates

Will Boyd, 45, Florence. Currently pastor, St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church in Florence. Prior political experience includes city council of Greenville, Ill. and two positions with the Lauderdale County (Alabama) Democratic Executive Committee. Experience in manufacturing sector and in educational leadership of Christian colleges. Education includes bachelor’s degree in engineering, an MBA, and other degrees in Christian psychology and counseling. www.willboydforcongress.com

Vann Caldwell, 33, Talladega. Owner, Caldwell Protection LLC. Presently holds political office as Talladega County constable. Previous experience includes a public safety agency at The University of Alabama and a position as researcher for U. S. District Judge Scott Coogler. Holds bachelor’s degrees in political science and history from The University of Alabama. www.vanncaldwell.com

Jason Fisher, 46, Orange Beach. Vice president and senior consultant, Ruffalo Noel Levitz, enrollment and fundraising consultants for colleges and non-profit organizations. No previous political offices held. Certified fundraising executive. Education includes bachelor’s degree in business and political science from Coe College and master’s of public service from the University of Arkansas. www.fisherforsenate.com

Michael Hanson, 35, Irondale. Co-founder Mud Pie Creative Lab, 2013- present; currently executive director of GASP (Great Birmingham Alliance to Stop Pollution). Background and extensive civic activity in marketing/public relations. No previous political offices held. Education includes bachelor’s degree in business administration/ marketing and master’s degree in public relations and advertising. wwwhansenforalabama.com

Doug Jones, 63, Birmingham. Currently in private law practice in Birmingham. Political offices include appointment as U. S. Attorney for Northern Alabama, 1997-2001. Experience includes service as staff council to U. S. Senate Judiciary Committee, and stint as assistant U. S. attorney. Extensive professional/civic board memberships. Education resume includes bachelor degree in political science from The University of Alabama and law degree from Cumberland School of Law. www.dougjonesforsenate.com

Robert Kennedy, Jr., 47, Prichard. (Unrelated to the political Kennedy family of Massachusetts). Current employment indicated as “private sector” (retail). Previous employers include Harrah’s Entertainmement, Toys”R” Us, Sears, and Precision Dermatology. No previous political offices held. Holds bachelor’s degree in political science from the U. S. Naval Academy, a master’s in human resource development from the Naval Postgraduate School and an MBA from Duke University. wwwteamkennedy2017.org

Charles Nana, 52, Hoover. Currently a management consultant employed by Wasalos Consulting. 25 years’ experience in this area with other employers. No previous political offices held. NCAA soccer referee; founded and maintains scholarship fund. Education includes bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, master’s degree in biomedical engineering, and MBA in finance and strategic management. www.nanaforsenate.com

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