With the Feb. 7 deadline approaching for candidates to qualify for the party primary elections, few have thrown their hats in the ring to challenge the local incumbents in Calhoun County.
“I think there are still a few people on the fence,” said Sheila Gilbert, chairwoman of the Calhoun County Democratic Party. “I think there will be a few more that pop up this next week.”
As of Friday, Gilbert said just three candidates for two seats had qualified locally for the party. Current Democratic County Commissioner Fred Wilson will face a challenger in James Montgomery, and County Revenue Commissioner Karen Roper will also seek re-election.
Gilbert said the apparent lack of interest is likely due in part to a sped-up timeframe for qualifying. Initially the deadline for qualifying was April 4, but Alabama Secretary of State Jim Bennett moved the date up to Feb. 7 to accommodate federal requirements for military and overseas absentee voters. The party’s headquarters on 11th Street has been open for less than a month.
A lack of challengers is good news for the Republican Party, which holds all but three locally elected seats in Calhoun County. The party is hoping to pick up another seat in 2014, as no fewer than four candidates will run for the District 5 seat on the County Commission. That post is currently held by Democrat Rudy Abbott, who has announced he will not seek re-election.
“That’s not only true here, but across the state,” said Gene Howard, chairman of the Calhoun County Republican Party, on lack of challengers within the party. “If you’re a Republican incumbent, you have the name recognition, and it would take some serious issues to dislodge them from office. I’m just not seeing that sentiment from folks.”
Howard said he had no indication that there would be any more candidates qualifying before the Feb. 7 deadline.
Howard said three primaries will take place on the Republican ticket in Calhoun County. Sheriff Larry Amerson will face challenger Ross McGlaughn, a former Sheriff’s Office deputy and current Heflin police officer. Circuit Judge Brenda Stedham will face Peggy Miller, a local attorney. A four-way race among Lee Patterson, Jay Dill, Jason Lively and former Democratic Commissioner Phillip Pritchett will determine who runs for the District 5 County Commission seat on the Republican ticket.
Besides the incumbents seeking re-election, Howard said Carolyn Henderson, a member of the Calhoun County Board of Registrars and wife of County Circuit Clerk Eli Henderson, has qualified to run for county revenue commissioner.
At the state level, Anniston attorney Ted Copland has qualified as a Democrat in Montgomery to run against Republican K.L. Brown, the state representative from the 40th District representing eastern and northern Calhoun County.
Gilbert said despite the low turnout of qualified candidates so far, she’s not concerned about the health of the Democratic Party in Calhoun County.
“We’re not going to twist anybody’s arm, but we’ll be here if they want to run,” Gilbert said. “We’re looking for candidates who are interested in public service, not personal gain.”
Staff Writer Brian Anderson: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @BAnderson_Star. Candidates qualified to run for Calhoun County offices:
James Montgomery (D)
Fred Wilson (D)
Tim Hodges (R)
Don Hudson (R)
J.D. Hess (R)
Jay Dill (R)
Jason Lively (R)
Lee Patterson (R)
Phillip Pritchett (R)
Larry Amerson (R)
Ross McGlaughn (R)
Carolyn Henderson (R)
Karen Roper (D)
Pat Brown (R)
Barry Robertson (R)
Circuit Judge, Place 4
Peggy Miller (R)
Brenda Stedham (R)