By Greg Markley
Opelika Observer

If everyone who voted in the Republican runoff election in Lee County on Tuesday took a seat at Auburn University’s Plainsman Park, there would still be some 2,300 seats unoccupied. Spurts of hard rain, the fact that Democrats had no runoffs, and the absence of a high-profile race such as for governor led to a 1.99 percent turnout.

Still, Auburn attorney Tom Eden III was elected as a member of the state GOP executive committee, cementing his appointment for that role last year. He defeated Steve Benson of Auburn, president of Opelika Land and Timber, by 810-678. Eden thanked “everybody who got me over the top” and said he will work to oust Alabama GOP chairman Bill Armistead whom he called “a decisive influence at the state level who is not a vehicle of change in the party.”

Secretary of State candidate Reese McKinney and PSC, Place 2 incumbent Terry Dunn won in Lee County but lost statewide. McKinney bested John Merrill 885-612 in Lee, but statewide Merrill won with 53 percent to 47 percent. Dunn garnered 882 votes in Lee to Chip Beeker’s 651. Statewide, Dunn lost by 59 percent to 41 percent. “This election was a referendum on liberal environmentalists who are trying to invade our state and a win for Alabama consumers,” Beeker told the AP. In the campaign he often attacked President Barack Obama and the Environment Protection Agency.

In the GOP runoff for state auditor veteran candidate Jim Zeigler, a Mobile attorney, trounced Dale Peterson by more than 70 percent in Lee County returns. Peterson became an Internet sensation in 2002 with his “We’re Better Than That!” ad with his horse and shotgun bemoaning public corruption. He lost in the state as a whole by 65 percent to 35 percent. He faces two misdemeanor theft charges from 2012 and 2013.

By more than 2-1 margins both statewide and in Lee County, voters approved a constitutional amendment that would end an assessment refund that goes to cotton producers who do not participate in a program for the cotton check-off. The amendment as passed allows the Alabama Cotton Commission to query farmers to see if they would oppose the refund provision for cotton producers.

Its opponents were not comfortable with the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries, or any agency, being tasked with collecting and dispersing the fee. But the amendment won by 1,110-465 in Lee