Bentley slated for runoff, but change possible

For now, Robert Bentley and Bradley Byrne are the two candidates in the Republican gubernatorial primary runoff July 13, but things could change, according to Secretary of State Beth Chapman.

“Based on an unofficial count, the two candidates in the Republican primary runoff scheduled for July 13, 2010, are Bradley Byrne and Robert Bentley with Tim James in a close third place,” Chapman said in a press conference June 3.

About 1,000 provisional ballots are still being counted, which could change the outcome of the primary election.

Chapman said her office would not be able to certify the election results until June 11 at the earliest. June 17 is the latest date the secretary of state’s office can certify the election results, she said.

Although Bentley and James are currently separated by only 208 votes, a recount isn’t automatic.

“There will not be an automatic recount triggered by the close numbers between the two candidates, as Alabama law does not require it in primary elections,” Chapman said. “At this point in time, no one has asked for a recount. We will cross that bridge if we get to it, but my staff and I are more than prepared to handle whatever comes our way.”

In letters Chapman sent to Bentley, James and Rep. Mike Hubbard (R-Lee), chairman of the Alabama Republican party, she laid out the procedures for counting provisional ballots, tabulating and declaring the results and requesting a recount.

According to Alabama law, the candidate requesting the recount must pay the cost of the recount.

Chapman said she would work to ensure the election process and possible recount would be honest and fair for candidates.

“We are setting a precedent for something that is unprecedented,” she said. “This is a historic election result in Alabama’s history.”

Bentley’s campaign manager, David Ferguson, said he expects Bentley to stay in the runoff.

“Dr. Bentley was second place in the primary and will appear in the runoff on July 13,” Ferguson said. “We are moving forward full steam ahead by growing our donor and volunteer base. The outpouring of support has been tremendous and we are looking forward to squaring off against Bradley Byrne.”

In a press release, James said the race isn’t over.

“There are an estimated 1,000 ballots that have yet to be counted. This race is still not settled,” he said.