- Associated Press - Monday, February 29, 2016

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - Alabama voters on Tuesday will decide which candidates will advance in races to represent the state in Congress while they also pick candidates for the state board of education, the public service commission and local judicial posts.

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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, faces challenges from four Republican opponents. They include businessman and former Marine Jonathan McConnell, and business owner Shadrack McGill, who served in the state Senate from 2010 and 2014. Shelby, 81, has touted consistent opposition to President Barack Obama. But he is also seeking a sixth term in an election year defined by voters’ distaste for Washington insiders. Also challenging Shelby are businessman Marcus Bowman of Daphne and John Martin, a military veteran from Dothan. Democratic candidates Charles Nana and Ron Crumpton are competing for a place on the November ballot.

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U.S. HOUSE

Four of six Republican incumbents running for seats in the U.S. House of Representatives face challenges from opponents in Tuesday’s primary. There are no contested Democratic House races.

Orange Beach developer Dean Young is looking to unseat U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne in a rematch from a 2013 special primary runoff to fill the District 1 seat that was left vacant when Rep. Jo Bonner retired. Byrne was elected to his first full term in 2014. The 1st District covers a swath of southwest Alabama including Mobile.

Rep. Martha Roby is seeking her fourth term to represent District 2, which covers southeast Alabama and the Montgomery area. Roby faces challenges from Becky Gerritson, a Wetumpka tea party leader who testified before Congress in 2013 about the IRS targeting conservative groups, and Rob Rogers.

Rep. Mike Rogers, a former attorney and businessman from Anniston, is looking to secure his fourth term representing District 3, which covers a stretch of east Alabama. He’s looking to defeat Larry Di Chiara, a longtime Auburn educator and administrator who pledges to defund the Department of Education and dismantle Common Core, among other things.

Rep. Robert Aderholt, who serves on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, is seeking an 11th term representing the 4th Congressional District, which covers a large section of north Alabama. Aderholt faces a challenge from Phil Norris, whose campaign is headquartered in Dothan - roughly 200 miles south of the district’s southern boundary.

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STATE SUPREME COURT

Alabama Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker must defeat GOP challenger Donna Beaulieu to keep his seat. Parker was elected to the state’s high court in 2004 and was re-elected in 2010. Parker previously served as deputy administrative director of the courts and as legal adviser to Chief Justice Roy Moore. He also held leadership roles in several conservative organizations. Beaulieu is a Shelby County attorney whose campaign website touts 18 years of experience as a practicing attorney, a background as a small business owner and Christian principles.

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PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION

Twinkle Cavanaugh, president of the utility-regulating Public Service Commission, is looking to defeat Republican challenger Terry Dunn, a former commissioner who wants to establish a special usage-based rate plan. 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 faces the most crowded primary field with three challengers looking to represent a swath of southwest Alabama that includes Mobile County. 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 of them.

Brown pledges to support career and technical education programs and - like other Republican candidates - fight or reverse federal influence in state school standards. Republicans Adam Bourne, Carl Myrick and Jackie Ziegler - wife of state auditor Jim Zeigler - are also vying for Brown’s position.

Longtime Republican incumbent Stephanie Bell, who represents central Alabama, and Democrat Ella Bell, whose district covers much of the state’s Black Belt region, each face primary challenges. Board Vice President Jeff Newman is also in a three-way Republican race for District 7, which begins in northwest Alabama and stretches into Tuscaloosa and Jefferson counties.

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CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT

Residents will also vote on 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 supports the amendment and 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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