Bentley, James must wait week on runoff spot

Published 7:20 pm Wednesday, June 2, 2010

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Robert Bentley and Tim James won’t know until next week who officially made the Republican runoff for governor with Bradley Byrne, and then one of them could request a recount.

Unofficial election results from the Tuesday primary show Bryne made the runoff, which will be held on July 13. Bentley is leading James by 208 votes for the second spot.

The state’s chief election official, Secretary of State Beth Chapman, said Wednesday she is trying to sort out the myriad election laws that apply in a unique situation.

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“We are setting a precedent,” she said.

County Republican executive committees will tabulate the results June 8. Then they will certify the results to the state Republican Party chairman by the next day.

Alabama law doesn’t make a recount automatic if the race remains close. A candidate who finishes third, such as James, would have 48 hours after a county finishes its work to request a recount. Requests must be made county by county, Chapman said.

Candidates requesting a recount have to pay for it, with costs set by each county’s Republican Party.

Bentley, a Tuscaloosa physician and state representative, said the process will take at least one week of the six weeks allowed for the runoff.

“The bad thing is it uses up days when we could be campaigning, and it eats up resources, which we don’t have many of. That benefits Bradley,” he said.

James, a Greenville developer, is taking a wait-and-see attitude.

“The votes are still being tallied and I look forward to hearing a vote count once it is announced by Secretary of State Chapman,” he said.

The votes that are still being tallied are provisional ballots.

Those are ballots that were cast Tuesday, but weren’t immediately counted because a voter didn’t have an identification card to show at the polls or had moved to a different address since the last election.

Voter registrars in each county are determining which can be counted. Chapman said it’s uncertain how many provisional ballots were cast, how many are legitimate, and how many are Republican ballots.

While Republicans wrangle over who’s number two, the winner of the Democratic primary for governor, state Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks, said he didn’t care who the Republicans pick to oppose him.

Sparks said he will return to the campaign trail this weekend at the Bama Jam music festival in Enterprise, and he will continue to stress creation of an education lottery and taxation and regulation of gambling because no Republican in the runoff has those issues in his platform.

“I’m going to fight for a lottery to make sure our children in Alabama get the same opportunity as children in Georgia,” he said at his campaign headquarters in Montgomery.