MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — Alabama’s primary elections are four weeks away, but getting frontrunner candidates to commit to debates and forums is proving difficult.
The League of Women Voters hosted a candidate forum for Secretary of State Tuesday to give voters the opportunity to learn more about their options on election day.
“We feel like every opportunity you have to learn about the candidates makes you a better buyer when you go to the ballot box,” League of Women Voters President Kathy Jones asid.
Two of the four candidates participated: businessman Chris Horn and former elections administrator in the Secretary of State’s office Ed Packard.
State Auditor Jim Zeigler and State Representative Wes Allen did not attend.
According to a January Wave Consulting Poll of 1,200 likely Republican voters, Zeigler is leading the pack at 31% followed by Allen at 11%.
Zeigler says he opted out because he is sick. Allen says he had a campaign event already scheduled more than a month ago when he was contacted about the forum.
“I already had a prior engagement in Houston County, and they did not provide me another date to choose from, and so I can’t break my promise to the good people of Houston County,” Allen said. “I had to keep my commitment, and I just want the people of Alabama to know that I’m going to keep my commitments to the people of Alabama.”
Political Analyst Steve Flowers says this seems to be a trend this election cycle, noting the difficulty with arranging a U.S. Senate debate with the top three candidates.
He says political consultants may be advising candidates already in the lead to take a step back from publicity.
“They want to control the message and television still continues to be the message for campaign ads, and debates seem to be a thing maybe of the past because these consultants totally totally will not let their candidates go on debates because you really get nothing out of it and they could make a mistake, especially if you’re a frontrunner,” Flowers said.
The candidate who wins this Secretary of State primary on May 24 and the potential runoff in June will go on to the general election in November against Democratic candidate Pamela Laffitte.