Republican House, Senate hopefuls raising big money

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Political analyst predicts runoff in both races

Campaign reports for the third quarter show money pouring into Republican candidates in the race for U.S. Senate and the 1st Congressional District in Alabama. The quarter ended September 30.

Four Republicans are vying for the Lower Alabama congressional seat currently held by Bradley Byrne. Byrne is running for U.S. Senate. Among the four, former State Senator Bill Hightower received the most campaign donations in the quarter. Hightower raised $173,000, bringing his total contributions to $560,000. Hightower ran unsuccessfully for governor last year.

Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl raised $156,000 in the quarter and has now raised $857,000 in the election cycle. $405,000 of that total is a personal loan Carl took out.

State Representative Chris Pringle raised $92,000 in the quarter and has now raised a total of $308,000. Wes Lambert of Baldwin County raised $15,000 in the third quarter and has now received a total of $173,000 in contributions.    

“You’re coming close to $2 million – that’s a lot of money for a primary,” said Mobile-based political strategist Jon Gray. “That’s a lot of money considering this is a presidential year and Donald Trump is taking a lot of money out of races.”

Qualifying for the race ends at the end of October. Gray does not anticipate any more legitimate candidates entering the field, noting the amount of money that’s already come into the race.

“We’re kind of in the maturation process of the race that if you are interested you’ve kind of missed the window,” Gray said.

Carl leads the pack in terms of money on hand as of the end of September. He has $741,000, compared to Hightower’s $448,000, Pringle’s $215,000, and Lambert’s $110,000.

In the Republican Senate race, Byrne has a large lead in money on hand, although 3rd quarter donations were fairly evenly spread out among the front runners. Byrne now has $2,529,000 unspent, compared to former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville’s $1,455,000, and Secretary of State John Merrill’s $738,000.

In the 3rd quarter, Byrne received $408,000 in donations, Tuberville $373,000, and Merrill $372,500. State Representative Arnold Mooney raised $242,700 and now has $386,000 on hand. Stanley Adair of Haleyville received $149,000 in donations in the 3rd quarter. Former State Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore raised $63,000 in the same period.

As in the congressional race, Gray does not anticipate any late qualifiers for the senate race. He adds all the candidates should budget for a runoff election after the March 3 primary.

“If they had a lottery on if there’s going to be a runoff, I’d buy as many tickets as I could get,” Gray said. “They’re absolutely, in my opinion, will be a runoff in the senate race and in the 1st congressional district.”

Watch the complete interview with Gray above.

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