Late on Saturday, the Alabama Republican Party had made its decision on the challenged State Senate District 27 race between incumbent Sen. Tom Whatley and Auburn City Councilmember Jay Hovey. The race was declared as a tie.
A hearing of the Alabama Republican Party Candidate Committee was held on the election contest filed in SD27. Following deliberations, the committee released its final decision on the matter:
“The Committee has declared the race a tie," the Alabama Republican Party said in a statement. "The tie will be broken in the same manner established for general elections set forth in Alabama Code 17-12-23.”
1819 News spoke with Alabama Secretary of State John H. Merrill about the details of how the tie breaker will be handled. Merrill explained that under Alabama law, whenever a general election ends in a tie that the outcome is decided by a “game of chance.” However, this was a primary election, so the details as to what the game of chance will be and how that will be conducted are left to the Republican Party. Merrill guessed that Chairman John Wahl would likely be the one who tossed the coin.
Hovey defeated Whatley in the May 24 Republican primary by just one vote, 8,373 to 8,372, after all of the provisional ballots were counted despite being outspent ten to one by the three-term incumbent.
Whatley challenged the results arguing that 422 voters who normally vote in the Democratic primary had voted in the Republican primary in order to elect Hovey, thwarting the will of HD27 Republicans. Auburn University creative writing professor Anton DiSclafani has claimed in the New York Times that he is responsible for an orchestrated effort to recruit Democrats and other leftists to vote for Hovey over Whatley, a farmer, attorney, and retired Alabama National Guard Colonel.
The Alabama Republican Party Candidate Committee determined during Saturday's election contest hearing that an uncounted provisional ballot in favor of Senator Tom Whatley was improperly excluded from the vote totals. When this provisional ballot was included in the vote totals, the race became tied the Alabama Republican Party reported in a statement on Monday.
The Alabama Republican Party emphasized that it has the authority to pick its nominee in the event of a tied primary; however in this case, the ALGOP Candidate Committee voted in favor of having Chairman John Wahl resolve this tie by lot, the method used for such situations in a general election, as outlined in Alabama Code 17-12-23.
The ALGOP is currently working with both candidates to determine a date and location for the tie-breaker. Once that has been established, members of the media will be notified.
Senate District 27 includes portions of Lee, Tallapoosa, and Russell counties.
The eventual Republican nominee will still have to face Democrat Sherry Reese in the Nov. 8 general election.
The Committee also announced that it had rejected challenges in House Districts 28 and 29 (both in Etowah County). In HD28, this means that former State Rep. Mack Butler (R-Rainbow City) will be the nominee over incumbent State Rep. Gil Isbell (R-Gadsden). Butler has no general election opponent. In HD29, Mark Gidley defeated James Grant. Gidley will still face Libertarian Clifford Valentin in the Nov. 8 general election.
To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email brandon.moseley@1819News.com.
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