Howard wins House seat

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 4, 2005

About 1100 votes determined the newest member of the Alabama House of Representatives Tuesday night in the Special Election for District 72. Greensboro’s Ralph A. Howard scored what some will consider an upset victory over Albert Turner, Jr. to end the night as the newly elected state Congressman.

“I’m very happy,” Howard said at a victory party Tuesday evening in Greensboro. “First I want to thank the voters. This is not a victory for me. This victory is for everyone who worked so hard on this campaign and for everyone who voted.

“I’m ready to work. That’s how I feel right now,” he added.

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Howard took 56.8 percent of the total vote to 43.2 percent for Turner.

The key to Howard’s victory was a decisive showing at the Hale County polls. Hale voters going to the polls Tuesday cast 2221 votes for Howard compared to only 573 for Turner, a margin of more than 1600 votes. Although Turner held an overwhelming 813 to 43 edge in the Hale absentee ballot box–numbers that will once again raise the eyebrows of those suspicious of voting fraud in Hale–it was not enough to offset Howard’s strong support throughout Hale County at the polls.

“I think the difference was my county,” Howard said. “These people knew that I am sincere, hardworking, knowledgeable, and capable. The totals from Hale say a lot.”

Turner had hoped for a similar boost from his home county of Perry, but it was not to be. Turner scored a victory in Perry, but only narrowly, as Howard received 1848 votes to Turner’s 1909.

Very low voter turnouts in the sections of Marengo and Bibb counties contained in District 72 meant that they held little impact on the race, but Howard claimed victories there as well. In Marengo County, Howard took 302 votes to Turner’s 197 votes. In Bibb, it was Howard 264 to Turner’s 69.

Contacted by phone Tuesday night, Turner was gracious in defeat.

“I wish to congratulate Mr. Howard and offer our support to help move West Alabama forward,” said Turner.

He added both ran a tough hard race. He also encouraged his supporters to stay focused for the future and thanked them for their hard work.

Howard will replace Turner’s political ally Bobby Singleton in the state House. Singleton vacated the seat when he was elected to the state Senate in January.

Both Howard and Turner are Democrats, which meant that Tuesday’s election was, technically speaking, a primary. But as no other candidates from any other party ran, it will serve as a general election.

“I think the people spoke today,” Howard said. “I’d just like to thank the people again for their support.”

All voting numbers are reflected at press time and are unofficial counts.