Experts predict low turnout despite key races in primary runoff

MONTGOMERY - The polls are open for the state's runoff elections. Alabama Secretary of State Beth Chapman said election officials are predicting about 18 to 20 percent of registered voters to decide which among the candidates advance to be on the ballot for the November election.

The hottest race will decide the Republican nominee for governor -- Robert Bentley edged Tim James to make the runoff against Bradley Byrne. Both spent hundreds of thousands leading up to this race, which will determine who faces Democrat Ron Sparks in November.

In the Second Congressional District, Martha Roby, a Montgomery City Council member who barely missed taking a majority of the votes in the primary faces Rick Barber. The winner will face incumbent Democrat Bobby Bright.

The Democratic nomination in the Seventh Congressional District is another pivotal race -- it is for the seat vacated when Congressman Artur Davis made his unsuccessful run for Governor. Attorney Terri Sewell and Jefferson County Commissioner Shelia Smoot are both running. They are hoping to make history as the first black congresswoman from Alabama. The winner of will face the winner of the Republican runoff between Don Chamberlin and Cris Salter.

The only major statewide race on the Democratic ballot is for attorney general. Giles Perkins and James Anderson face off in that race. The winner meets Republican Luther Strange in November.

Alabama Republicans will also be making a choice in agriculture commissioner. John McMillan and Dorman Grace appear on the ballot. The winner faces Democrat Glen Zorn.     

Election officials are expecting a pretty low turnout for today's runoff races. The prediction is based on the fact that the runoff falls during the middle of summer vacation season and it is just weeks after the primary.

The polls are open from 7:00 a.m to 7:00 p.m. Tuesday.   

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