- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 2, 2016

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Most Republican incumbents on Tuesday fended off GOP challengers who sought seats in the U.S. Senate, House of Representatives and the state Supreme Court.

Sen. Richard Shelby was successful in his primary bid for a sixth term, and U.S. Reps. Martha Roby, Mike Rogers, Robert Aderholt and Bradley Byrne also handily defeated challengers to represent their district. The leadership of the state’s Supreme Court will remain the same with the incumbent justice cruising to victory.

However, two incumbents serving on the Alabama Board of Education - including the board’s vice president and a member appointed by Gov. Robert Bentley - are headed for runoffs after losing primary races to Republican challengers.

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U.S. SENATE

Richard Shelby, who was first elected to the Senate in 1986 before he switched from the Democratic Party, faced challenges from four Republican opponents. Incomplete returns showed Shelby leading by a wide margin with more than 60 percent of the vote. The longtime senator faced challenges from Marine veteran Jonathan McConnell, who had won about 27 percent of votes.

Business owner Shadrack McGill, who served in the state Senate from 2010 and 2014, and challengers John Martin and Marcus Bowman were also looking to unseat Shelby, who will face off against Democrat Ron Crumpton.

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U.S. HOUSE

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby, a former Montgomery City Council member in her third two-year term in Congress, defeated Wetumpka Tea Party organizer Becky Gerritson to represent the 2nd District, which includes much of Montgomery and southeast Alabama.

Roby has campaigned to improve health care for veterans in central Alabama and to preserve the area’s military bases.

Gerritson testified before Congress in 2013 about the IRS targeting conservative groups and accused Roby of aligning herself with the Washington establishment.

“They have given me their blessing and mandate to continue to fight for conservative solutions,” Roby said of Alabama voters during her victory speech, adding that they chose solutions over sanctity, progress over pessimism and results over rage.

U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers defeated longtime Auburn educator Larry DiChiara in his quest for a fourth term representing District 3, which covers east Alabama. Early, incomplete returns showed Rogers had won about 75 percent of votes.

Rep. Robert Aderholt, who serves on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, was successful in his quest for an 11th term representing the 4th Congressional District, which covers a large section of north Alabama.

Early, incomplete returns showed Aderholt had won about 80 percent of votes.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne also defeated Orange Beach developer Dean Young in a rematch from a 2013 special primary runoff to fill the District 1 seat that was left vacant when Rep. Jo Bonner retired. Incomplete returns showed Byrne with more than 60 percent of the vote.

Byrne was elected to his first full term in 2014. The 1st District covers a swath of southwest Alabama including Mobile.

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STATE SUPREME COURT

Alabama Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker defeated GOP challenger Donna Beaulieu in the GOP primary. Parker will keep his seat on the state’s high court since there is not a Democrat in the race. Parker was elected to the state’s high court in 2004 and was re-elected in 2010. He previously served as deputy administrative director of the courts and as legal adviser to Chief Justice Roy Moore.

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PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION

Twinkle Cavanaugh will continue as president of the utility-regulating Public Service Commission.

She defeated Republican challenger Terry Dunn, a former commissioner who wanted to establish a special usage-based rate plan. Cavanaugh had won 62 percent of votes with 52 percent of precincts reporting.

Dunn has accused the commission of lacking transparency and serving utilities over ratepayers. Cavanaugh has said in campaign ads that she’s used her position to fight the Obama administration’s Environmental Protection Agency and “liberal environmentalists.”

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STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION

GOP incumbent Matthew Brown faced the most crowded primary field with three challengers looking to represent a swath of southwest Alabama and is headed for a runoff with Jackie Ziegler, the wife of state Auditor Jim Ziegler.

Brown, an engineer for the county highway department, was appointed by Gov. Robert Bentley to fill a vacant post in July. Local and national education writers were quick to point out that Brown never attended public schools and didn’t appear to support them.

Brown pledges to support career and technical education programs and - like other Republican candidates - fight or reverse federal influence in state school standards. Ziegler had won about 34 percent of votes with 75 percent of precincts voting. Brown had won 29 percent and challenger Adam Bourne had won about 22 percent.

Board Vice President Jeff Newman was also in a three-way Republican race for District 7, and is headed for a runoff with Jim Bonner, who won about 43 percent of votes with 70 percent of precincts reporting. Newman had won about 38 percent of votes. The district begins in northwest Alabama and stretches into Tuscaloosa and Jefferson counties.

Longtime Republican incumbent Stephanie Bell, who represents central Alabama, had also won about 60 percent of votes, according to early returns. Democrat Ella Bell, whose district covers much of the state’s Black Belt region, had won more than 80 percent of the vote, according to early returns.

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CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT

Voters also approved a proposed amendment to the state Constitution to authorize the Legislature to replace a retirement system for judges, state Supreme Court justices, circuit clerks and district attorneys who are elected or appointed after Nov. 8.

State Treasurer Young Boozer said in a statement that under the current system, circuit clerks and judges pay into their retirement plans but district attorneys don’t. A new plan could save taxpayers roughly $4.3 million annually, Boozer said.

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