By Fred Woods
Lee County voters elected Brandon Hughes district attorney over incumbent Robbie Treese by a 58 to 42 percent margin Tuesday in the day’s biggest voting surprise. The door-to-door campaign waged by Hughes, aided in no small part by his wife, Karen, proved once again that local people like to be asked for their vote.
About the only other surprise in the county was the strong showing of first-time senate candidate Jonathan McConnell running against 83-year-old incumbent Richard Shelby. The newcomer, aided by Opelika family connections received 40 percent of the vote as Shelby gained a narrow 51 percent majority in Lee County. Shelby carried the state with 65 percent of the vote while McConnell got 28 percent, still a good showing for a first-time candidate. Shelby will face Democrat Ron Crumpton in November.
The voter turnout rate of 34 percent was within Probate Judge Bill English’s 30 to 40 percent prediction, but many thought it might be higher. A late afternoon severe thunderstorm watch may have deterred some late voters.
County voters gave Hillary Clinton an 80 percent margin on the Democratic side while Republican voters preferred Trump (33 percent) over Cruz and Rubio, who virtually tied with 23 and 22.5 percent, respectively.
County results were consistent with the state as a whole, although Trump’s state-wide margin was 10 points more than the county.
The state-wide constitutional amendment providing retirement plans for district attorneys, circuit clerks and some judges passed in Lee County and state-wide.