/What you need to know about the primary

What you need to know about the primary

Individual filling out their presidential preference card in the Iowa Caucus.
Photo by: Jonathan Rogers from The Little Hawk

Democratic presidential candidates have widely ignored Alabama, with few rallies happening with candidates present, but with a field split into almost thirds Alabama could help decide who the ultimate nominee of the Democratic party is. 

Alabama’s primary will be held on March 3, also known as Super Tuesday, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and because of Alabama’s open primary system you are allowed to vote in either the Democratic or Republican primaries as long as you registered to vote on or before Feb. 17 for online registration, Feb. 15 for mail registration or Feb. 14 for hand delivered voter registration forms. 

During the primary, Alabamians will get the opportunity to vote for delegates to be sent to the Democratic or Republican National Conventions. These delegates will then vote for who the ultimate candidate for their respective parties. 

Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., is currently the apparent front runner but with votes and delegates from each of the previous primaries and caucuses split with such small margins – Sanders only defeated Mayor Pete Buttigieg by 2 points in the New Hampshire Primary, a contest in which he secured 60% of the vote in 2016 – it is a possibility that front runners may change wildly over the course of Super Tuesday. 

Sanders has been outspoken about his support for a Medicare for All plan that would create a public healthcare option, as well as focusing on lowering college tuition. Sanders has proposed steep tax increases on the wealthiest of Americans to pay for his proposals. 

Unlike many of his opponents, this is not Sanders’ first bid for the democratic presidential nomination. The independent from Vermont has vyed for a presidential nomination in three different presidential election contests, and almost won the nomination in 2016 against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. 

Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, IN, has taken a much more moderate stance than many of his rivals in the Democratic primary. The 35-year-old mayor has attempted to utilize his moderate lean to make a case for his electability. This, Buttigieg has stated on the debate stage will allow him to win over undecided voters, moderates and Republicans disaffected by the party’s support of President Donald Trump in a general election against the current president. 

The South Bend, Indiana Mayor’s detractors feel that Buttigieg lacks the national name recognition or executive experience needed to win a presidential election against Trump. Others have also noted the president hopeful’s mixed record on race and his difficulties stemming from an allegation against the South Bend Police of excessive force when dealing with black suspects in 2019. 

Other front runners include Senator Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. Klobuchar has placed herself as a moderate alternative who carried districts in Minnesota that Trump had secured in the 2016 election. Klobuchar was not seen as a front runner until her incredibly strong showing in the New Hampshire primary. 

Because of this she’s been a relative unknown. Klobuchar has represented Minnesota in the U.S. Senate for 13 years, and was first elected to the Senate in 2007. 

Klobuchar trailed Buttigieg by 4 points in the New Hampshire primary and Sanders by 2 points, making her a possible candidate. Recently, Klobuchar has been battling over similar voters as Buttigieg as former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign has lost steam in the primary contests. 

It’s not yet reasonable to count out Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., simply because of poor performance in the early contests, especially considering the debacle that was this year’s Iowa Democratic Primary.  

The first-term senator from Massachusetts, and former assistant chair of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has built her campaign on many of the same platforms as Bernie Sander’s; however, Warren has taken slightly more moderate stances.  

Other candidates on the primary ballet will include Democratic and Republican nominees for district court judges. Senator Doug Jones, D-Ala., and Representative Gary Palmer, R-Ala., will also be on the ballot, however they are both running unopposed in their respective primary elections.  

Running in the Republican primary for the Senate seat currently held by Jones, is former Senator and secretary of state Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., Representative Bradley Byrne, R-Ala.-1, who is currently serving as the representative of the Alabama District 1 in the US House, Judge Roy Moore, who previously competed against Jones in the 2017 special election, and Tommy Tuberville who is a former Auburn Football coach. 

Sessions previously held this Senate seat for 20 years, between 1997 and 2017, before he vacated the seat to accept a position as Trump’s Attorney General. He then resigned this position in November 2018. 

There are no challengers to Representative Gary Palmer, R-Ala., who is the congressional representative of Alabama’s 6th congressional district which includes Montevallo, Shelby County and portions of the Southern Birmingham suburbs.  

There are no Democrats running in the primary for the 6th District which means that Palmer will run unopposed in the general election for his seat in the House of Representatives. 

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Waid Jones was the editor-in-chief of The Alabamian during the 2019–2020 academic year. In 2018, while managing editor of The Alabamian, he received the Veterans of Influence Rising Star Award from the Birmingham Business Journal. Prior to coming to UM he was in the U.S. Marine Corps for two and a half years. Jones graduated with a degree in political science from UM in 2020. He is currently the news editor for the Jackson County Sentinel in Scottsboro, Alabama.