Sessions, Figures clinch U.S. senate primaries

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 4, 2008

LINDEN &8212; Marengo County results mirrored statewide results Tuesday with both U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions clinching the Republican primary for senator and state Sen. Vivian Davis Figures clinching the Democratic primary to oppose him.

Sessions received 97.67 percent, or 462 votes in Marengo County, while Earl Mack Gavin received 2.33 percent, or 11 votes total.

On the Democratic side, Figures achieved 74.48 percent majority locally with 1,322 votes. Johnny Swanson III received 16.56 percent of the vote and Mark &8220;No NCAA&8221; Townsend achieved 8.96 percent of the vote.

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Sessions, who was in Washington, said he was honored to be nominated for a third term. &8220;It is a privilege to work every day for the people of Alabama,&8221; he said.

Figures attributed her victory to crisscrossing the state in a low-budget, grassroots campaign on her days off the Legislature this spring. &8220;We took what we had and made what we needed,&8221; she said Tuesday night at a victory party in Mobile.

Sessions, 61, of Mobile is a former federal prosecutor and state attorney general who went to the Senate in 1996. He was the financial heavyweight in the race, with more than $4 million in his campaign chest. All the other candidates combined haven&8217;t raised one-tenth of what Sessions has.

Sessions never went into campaign mode during the low-key GOP primary, but he said the general election would be different.

Gavin, 67, of Smiths Station made his first campaign as a Republican after

losing statewide races as a Democrat for president of the Public Service Commission in 1976 and state auditor in 2002. His Senate bid was so low-key that he described it as a &8220;front porch campaign.&8221;

Figures, 51, has served in the state Senate since 1997, when she was elected to replace her late husband, Michael Figures. In her first race for statewide office, she picked up endorsements from the Alabama Democratic Conference, the black wing of the state Democratic Party, and the Alabama New South Coalition, a predominantly black political group.

Figures was second to Sessions in fundraising, with about $200,000.

Swanson, 55, of Birmingham is a disabled veteran who is retired from the private security business. He tried to run against Sessions in 2002 as an independent, but couldn&8217;t get enough votes to get on the ballot.

Townsend, a 49-year-old truck driver from Haleyville, had little time for campaigning due to his job. He relied on his newly made-up nickname and a lively Web site ( to attract attention. Townsend ran unsuccessfully for the State Board of Education in 2000 and governor in 2002.

Associated Press writer Phillip Rawls contributed to this report.