Tim James to request recount
Tim James will ask for a recount in the Republican race for governor after a tally of the provisional ballots failed to yield the more than 200 votes he needed to gain to move into second place and secure a spot in the runoff.
After provisional ballots from across the state were counted, James finished in third.
"The vote margin remains razor thin. Because of this, I have decided to move forward with a recount of the Republican gubernatorial primary vote," James said Tuesday at his Montgomery headquarters.
Former two-year college system Chancellor Bradley Byrne finished ahead of James and five other Republicans to secure a spot in the July 13 runoff.
State Rep. Robert Bentley of Tuscaloosa finished in second, just 167 votes ahead of James.
Through the counting of the provisional ballots, James picked up about 40 votes on Bentley.
Byrne finished 13,488 votes ahead of Bentley and received 137,448 votes statewide. Those totals were called in to the Alabama Republican Party from probate offices across the state, according to a release from the party.
The party will certify the vote with the secretary of state's office on Friday, but the results could be amended following a recount, according to the statement from the party.
James must pay for the runoff, according to the Alabama Republican Party and Secretary of State Beth Chapman.
Chapman said Tuesday that an opinion from the attorney general confirmed her office issued appropriate guidelines for the runoff and counting provisional ballots.
"I have said all along that the taxpayers of Alabama should not have to foot the bill for a primary recount," she said. "Today the attorney general's opinion confirmed that we are providing sound and accurate guidance in the best possible way in this unprecedented and historic election."
Chapman, the state's chief election official, and other leaders have said the close three-way election is unprecedented.
James, a Greenville businessman, said he is prepared to spend up to $200,000 on the recount. He said the campaign will begin requesting recounts in individual counties this morning beginning with the most populated.
The candidate said the 25 most populated counties in the state account for 85 percent of the population so the campaign will have at least those counties recounted. He said the campaign might request recounts in additional counties depending on resources.
A candidate has 48 hours after votes are canvassed at the county level to request a recount so James has until Thursday to make his request to counties. James said he will also petition state Rep. Mike Hubbard, chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, and the secretary of state’s office requesting the recount.
"The Alabama Republican Party will proceed with the certification of the vote totals for all primary races to the secretary of state by Friday at noon, as required by law," Hubbard said. "The party respects the decision of any candidate to request a recount to ensure every vote has indeed been counted, and counted correctly. Should a recount be requested, the party will follow the guidelines set forth by the secretary of state and in accordance with Alabama law. We will work through the process in an orderly and lawful manner. Once our gubernatorial nominee is selected by the voters on July 13, we look forward to working closely with the campaign to ensure victory in November."
James said he had not heard about any irregularities during voting.
He said he is in a virtual tie with Bentley for the second spot.
Bentley has declared he is the other Republican in the runoff and is moving forward with his campaign.
"Now that every vote has been counted, I am honored to declare victory and move forward with the runoff campaign," he said. "I congratulate Tim James for waging a hard fought campaign, but am ready to debate the key challenges facing Alabama with my runoff opponent."
Bentley said he will reach out to the supporters of his primary opponents and earn their votes.
James said he wants to see the process move forward as soon as possible, expecting it to be done by Monday or Tuesday, so the winner following the recount can campaign in the runoff.
He said the runoff needs to be done cordially and with integrity to avoid animosity that could hurt the party. James said there were no disagreements about the procedure during a Monday meeting between all of those involved.
With a recount, he said the accuracy should improve and reduce the margin of error.
James, his father and former Gov. Fob James, his mother, wife and other family members were at his campaign headquarters in east Montgomery on Tuesday watching the numbers come in from the counting of the provisional ballots.
Bentley, a dermatologist, finished 208 votes ahead of James after the initial count. He remained in the second spot after county officials looked through the provisional ballots, which were questioned because of various reasons such as the voter not having proper identification.
The winner of the July 13 runoff will face state agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks, the Democratic nominee.
-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen