As expected, both Republican front-runner Donald Trump and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton scored victories in their presidential primaries in the state of Alabama on Tuesday.
Immediately after the polls closed at 7 p.m. local time, most major news outlets gave the wins to both Trump and Clinton.
With nearly three-quarters of the precincts reporting, Trump held a commanding 24-point lead over his closest competitor, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and was expected to do well in Alabama after earning a key endorsement from arguably the state’s popular Republican, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL).
On the Democratic side, with nearly three-quarters of the vote reporting, Clinton sailed to a dominating 60-plus point win over her opponent Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Clinton was able to win over the state’s heavily Democratic African-American vote, which went for then-Sen. Barack Obama over Clinton just eight years earlier.
It wasn’t such a good night for the upstarts hoping to ride the coattails of the Trump and Cruz to defeat their incumbent opponents.
In what some thought was supposed to be a more dangerous race for five-term incumbent Sen. Richard Shelby turned out to not even be close. Shelby trounced all four of his opponents, including Jonathan McConnell, by accumulating 64 percent of the votes and thus avoiding a runoff.
“Tonight’s victory would not be possible without the countless volunteers and supporters who worked to help me advance our conservative message across the state,” Shelby said in a statement. “I am grateful for each and every vote I received today, and I look forward to continuing the conservative fight in the General Election.”
In Alabama’s first congressional district, Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL) handily defeated Orange Beach, AL businessman Dean Young, who he defeated three years earlier in the Republican primary for a special election for the seat up for grabs after then-Rep. Jo Bonner (R-AL) resigned from Congress in the middle of his term.
Byrne, who ran on local issues, touted those efforts Tuesday at his victory rally in Mobile, AL which included government shipbuilding contracts, fishing restrictions and the massive bridge project in his home district.
The other race that political watchers thought might be affected by the presidential race at the top of the ballot was in Alabama’s second congressional district held by Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL). Roby defeated Tea Party activist Becky Gerritson, who was known for her 2013 testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee on being targeted Internal Revenue Service.
“Today in this race, Alabama voters chose solutions over sanctimony, progress over pessimism, and results over rage,” Roby said in her victory speech. “Make no mistake, this was an important race and an important win – and I don’t mean just for me. This win matters because it sends a message about who we are going to be as a party in Alabama and what being a conservative means here today.”
Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor