Saturday. the Alabama Republican Party (ALGOP) announced the disputed Senate District 27 (SD27) Republican primary race between incumbent State Sen. Tom Whatley (R-Auburn) and Auburn City Councilman Jay Hovey would be decided by a coin toss.
That decision came after the party's steering committee ruled on a vote to be eligible to be counted in the final tally, which made the race a tie between the two candidates.
According to state law, in the event of a tie in a primary, the state party chair is tasked with determining the winner. In a tie in a general election, the winner is decided "by lot," according to state law.
Reportedly, ALGOP chairman John Wahl has opted to base his decision to determine who will represent the GOP on the November ballot on a coin toss.
State Rep. Ed Oliver (R-Dadeville), whose House District 81 is a sizeable chunk of SD27, criticized the decision.
During an interview with Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5, Oliver called on Wahl to forgo guidance from the steering committee and exercise his power under state law to decide best for Republican voters.
"[R]emember, I'm from a district that voted very heavily for Tom Whatley," Oliver said. "We're almost 70%. We've got a dog in this hunt, and Tom Whatley was a good senator for us. I'm not going to turn my back on the guy. You can call me whatever you want to, but I'm loyal. From that perspective, we saw the race [Saturday]. It was tied. They had a vote that had been previously uncounted (that) the Republican Party decided to count. So, in a tied race, we expected Chairman Wahl of the Republican Party to weigh in and make a decision. He elected not to do that and turn the decision over to the steering committee of the Republican Party. And somehow, they cattywampus, and rather than looking at what the statute asks for, which is for the chairman to make a decision, they started looking at other statutes, and they came up with the idea they could just ask for a coin toss.
"My personal view is they just didn't want to make a decision. And I get that. It's difficult. But this is a race where we know we had 388 Democrats who crossed over. These are people who voted in 2016 in the Democratic primary, 2018 in the Democratic primary, and then once again voted for Biden in 2020. When you talk about the will of the people, which is what I'm sure they were concerned about -- the reason we do primaries the way we do is so we can take some of these things that might be debatable and add that into the discussion. On that premise alone, I'm in a district that would like to remain Republican. I don't want infiltrators from urban areas within our district to tell us what to do in my district or in my county."
Oliver said he objects to the method the Republican Party Steering Committee is using to determine the election's outcome
"This is a tough spot for all of us," he added. "I hate to see it reduced to a coin toss. It's an insult to the Senate. It's an insult to my voters. It's an insult to the Jay Hovey voters, Tom's opposition. So, I hope we can get Chairman Wahl to come back and weigh in with us.
To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email jeff.poor@1819News.com.
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