URGENT Democrats in Runoff to Succeed Wallace; Denton Wins Easily
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) _ Lt. Gov. Bill Baxley and Attorney General Charles Graddick finished atop a field of five Tuesday and will compete in a Democratic runoff in their battle to succeed ailing Gov. George C. Wallace.
In the race to challenge Republican Sen. Jeremiah Denton, who easily won renomination, U.S. Rep. Richard Shelby led Jim Allen Jr., son of the late U.S. senator from Alabama.
With 2,602 of 4,230 precincts reporting, Baxley had 199,860 votes, or 36 percent; Graddick had 164,643 votes, or 30 percent; former Gov. Fob James had 116,202 votes, or 21 percent; former Lt. Gov. George McMillan had 68,350 votes, or 12 percent; and Barbara Evans O’Neal, a Bessemer housewife, had 2,879 votes, or 1 percent.
Baxley and Graddick will meet in a June 24 runoff to decide the Democratic nominee.
On the Republican side, Guy Hunt easily won the gubernatorial nomination, getting 11,356 votes, or 70 percent, to Doug Carter’s 4,885 votes, or 30 percent. Hunt faces long odds of becoming Alabama’s first Republican governor in 112 years.
Denton, who in 1980 became the first Republican senator elected in Alabama in a century, defeated political newcomer Richard Vickers of Birmingham. With 13 percent of the precincts reporting, Denton had 3,050 votes to Vickers’ 305 votes.
With 58 percent of the precincts reporting in the Democratic primary for senator, Shelby had 232,936 votes, or 53 percent, Allen had 149,594 votes, or 34 percent, Ted McLaughlin of Anniston had 33,819 votes, or 8 percent, Mrs. Frank Ross Stewart of Cherokee County had 15,548 votes, or 4 percent, and Lyndon LaRouche supporter Steve Arnold of Birmingham had 8,670 votes, or 2 percent.
Wallace watched the early returns on television at the Executive Mansion where he has lived for 17 of the past 23 years. He said the wounds of a 1972 assasination attempt bother him more and more but he did not regret not being on the ballot ″because all things come to an end.″
Wallace, an ailing, 66-year-old paraplegic, announced in April that he would not seek a fifth four-year term, ending a quarter century of dominating Alabama’s statehouse.
Baxley, 44, a former two-term state attorney general, has been a political ally of Wallace in recent years and has the support of the state’s black political leadership, the state teacher lobby and organized labor, ties that put him in sharp contrast to the other three more conservative candidates.
Graddick, 41, a former Republican from Mobile who is in his second term as attorney general, climbed sharply in the polls after Wallace dropped out of the race. Graddick laid claim to many of the ″hard-working, God-fearing″ white conservatives who long supported Wallace, and he billed himself as a fresh face for Alabama, the only one of the four who has never sought the governorship before.
James, 51, who built a fortune as a sporting goods manufacturer in Opelika, won Alabama’s governorship in 1978 in his first bid for political office, then turned his back on any re-election bid, saying he had promised voters he would try to clean up state government in one term only.
McMillan, 42, a Birmingham lawyer and former legislator, lost narrowly to Wallace in the 1982 Democratic runoff or governor.
The Senate race began sizzling when Shelby branded Allen an ″admitted drunken driver.″ Allen, 40, a state board of education member from Gadsden, cried foul, saying he pleaded guilty to a DUI charge when he was in college but no longer drinks.
Shelby, 52, a four-term conservative congressman from Tuscaloosa, spent more than $1 million on the campaign, while Allen reported spending only about $45,000. But Allen’s name recognition appeared to keep the race close.