Chestnut wins school board runoff, Tuberville tops Sessions

Published 3:30 pm Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Black Belt native Tonya Chestnut, a Democrat, topped Montgomery’s Fred Bell in Tuesday’s primary runoff for the District 5 Alabama State Board of Education seat and now heads to the November general election where she will face off against Republican Montgomery Public Schools board member Lesa Keith.

Chestnut handily outpaced Bell Tuesday night, collecting nearly 8,000 more votes, or better than 61 percent.

Chestnut could not be reached for comment.

Chestnut kicked off her campaign for the District 5 school board seat with an event at Selma’s Courtyhard by the River on Green Street.

“I am committed to being the voice that speaks and listens, the one that serves and desires the best for all children,” Chestnut said ahead of her campaign kickoff. “I am not seeking a position, but continuing my mission. My commitment is to use the experience I have gained as I walked the halls of schools in District 5 for 36 years. I am the choice for our children.”

District 5 encompasses a wide swath of the Black Belt, representing Autauga, Bullock, Choctaw, Clarke, Dallas, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Monroe, Montgomery, Perry, Pike, Sumter, Washington and Wilcox counties.

Former Auburn University football coach and political newcomer Tommy Tuberville bested former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in Tuesday’s U.S. Senate runoff.

With his victory, Tuberville now faces U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-AL, in the November general election.

Tuberville collected 333,890 votes, more than 60 percent, while Sessions collected 215,831.

U.S. President Donald Trump loomed large over the state’s senate election, as he warmly endorsed Tuberville and continually attacked Sessions, who resigned his position in Trump’s administration following pressure from the president over his decision to recuse himself from the investigation into Russian election interference.

Not long after Tuberville’s victory, which was declared less than two hours after polls closed Tuesday night, Alabama Republican Party Chairmjan Terry Lathan praised Tuberville and the campaign ahead.

“Tommy Tuberville is a true Washington outsider and has gained the trust of Alabama Republican Party voters to represent them and help President Trump ‘Drain the Swamp,’” Lathan said. “He will fight for the will of the majority who have been ignored since 2017. His conservative positions on the issues and support of our president will be welcomed when he defeats Doug Jones in November.”

But Jones, whose campaign released a statement only minutes after Tuberville’s, appeared ready for the fight.

“When I was elected, I promised the people of Alabama that I would put their interests first to find common ground and get things done for our state,” Jones said. “Washington already has plenty of people who fight along partisan lines and nothing much seems to get done.

Jones noted that during his tenure, which began with his defeat of former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore in a special election in 2018, he has had 17 bipartisan bills signed into law by Trump and has been honored three times by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for bipartisanship and pro-business support.

“That’s the record I will present to the people of Alabama at a time when our country and our state face multiple crises,” Jones said. “We are not out of the woods yet but every step of the way I will have your back and no one else’s. The choice before the voters is an unprepared hyper-partisan that will add to the divide in Washington, or my proven track-record to find common ground and get things done. We can choose ‘One Alabama’ and continue to move Alabama forward together and work for better health care, support our veterans and bring back jobs from overseas.”