Alabama gubernatorial election, 2014

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Alabama Gubernatorial Election

Primary Date:
June 3, 2014

General Election Date:
November 4, 2014

November 4 Election Winner:
Robert J. Bentley Republican Party
Incumbent prior to election:
Robert J. Bentley Republican Party
Bentley r.jpeg

Alabama State Executive Elections
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Governor Lieutenant GovernorSecretary of StateAttorney General
Down Ballot
Treasurer, Auditor, Agriculture Commissioner, Public Service Commissioner

Current trifecta for Republicans
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State executive offices in Alabama
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The Alabama gubernatorial election took place on November 4, 2014. Incumbent Robert J. Bentley (R) was first elected in 2010 and was running for re-election. He defeated Democratic candidate Parker Griffith for another four-year term.

Alabama is one of 14 states that uses an open primary system, in which registered voters do not have to be members of a party to vote in that party's primary.[1][2][3]

Candidates

General election

Republican Party Robert Bentley - Incumbent Green check mark transparent.png
Democratic Party Parker Griffith - Former Congressman

Lost in the primary

Republican Party Stacy George - State correctional officer, former Morgan County Commissioner[4]
Republican Party Bob Starkey - Retired software company owner[5]
Democratic Party Kevin Bass - Businessman, former minor league baseball player[6]

Results

General election

Governor of Alabama, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngRobert Bentley Incumbent 63.6% 750,231
     Democrat Parker Griffith 36.2% 427,787
     Nonpartisan Write-in votes 0.2% 2,395
Total Votes 1,180,413
Election Results via Alabama Secretary of State.

Primary election

Republican primary

Governor of Alabama Republican Primary, 2014
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngRobert Bentley Incumbent 89.3% 388,247
Stacy George 5.8% 25,134
Bob Starkey 4.9% 21,144
Total Votes 434,525
Election Results Via:Alabama Secretary of State.

Democratic primary

Governor of Alabama Democratic Primary, 2014
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngParker Griffith 63.9% 115,433
Kevin Bass 36.1% 65,225
Total Votes 180,658
Election Results Via:Alabama Secretary of State.


Campaign themes

Bentley and Griffith made public statements about their positions on major issues facing Alabama voters. The following sections quote these statements verbatim from candidate websites.

Economy

Robert J. Bentley

Opportunity is being found in over 50-thousand new, future Alabama jobs that have been created since I became your Governor. These are the higher-paying, higher-skilled jobs that offer families a steady income, not just a wage. These are jobs that are waiting to be filled in brand new manufacturing plants being built as we speak. Alabama has seen remarkable job growth since I took office in 2011. Between January 2011 and November 2013, Alabama saw an increase of 59,400 jobs. That is in addition to those 50-thousand new, future jobs we’ve created, many of which have yet to come online. Companies across the globe have invested over $5-billion dollars in our state. And unemployment in Alabama has dropped to a five year low, and now stands at 6.7 percent, the lowest rate in the deep-south. Alabama once again ranks among the top five states for doing business – for the fourth year in a row. [7]

—Robert Bentley's campaign website, (2014), [8]

Parker Griffith

Griffith has released a detailed plan to reform, retool and expand Medicaid that would create more than 30,000 new jobs at a time when Alabama is the only state in the nation with negative job growth. Griffith also supports a lottery for education, which will fund college education and pre-k programs across the state. This will allow more working families in Alabama save more of their income. Unlike the current governor, Griffith considers job creation, access to education, and the livelihood of the people of Alabama his top priority. [7]

—Parker Griffith's campaign website, (2014), [9]

Education

Robert J. Bentley

Alabama School Teachers In 2013 and 2014 Governor Bentley included a 2 percent pay raise for teachers and support personnel in his budget. “No one knows better how to best serve students than the ones who see them and educate them everyday. Next to their family, the most important person in a child’s life is their teacher. In 2012, I formed a Teacher Cabinet, and I’ve benefited from spending hours listening to their concerns. Most of the education agenda I’ve laid out came as a result of their suggestions. Our teachers truly feel called to their profession. They are dedicated to our children. They work hard. And we should thank them everyday for what they do. I want our teachers and support personnel to know how much we appreciate how hard they work.

Voluntary Pre K We must give children a chance at success even before they reach Kindergarten. We must close the achievement gap. Children and schools must be given every chance to succeed. I truly believe by allowing greater access to a voluntary Pre-K education, we will change the lives of children in Alabama.” Alabama’s First Class program is nationally-recognized for its quality. Alabama is currently one of only four states in the country to meet all 10 quality benchmarks established by the National Institute for Early Education Research. The benchmarks include teacher training, staff-child ratios, support services and more. First Class has now met all of these benchmarks for seven years in a row. However, only six percent of Alabama’s four-year-olds are currently enrolled in the First Class program. The state also ranks a disappointing 33rd in access among the 40 states that offer pre-k programs. In order to expand access, Governor Bentley proposed additional funding for voluntary pre-kindergarten in the fiscal year 2014 Education Trust Fund. In May, the Alabama Legislature approved more than $9 million in additional voluntary pre-k funding which resulted in 100 new Pre K sites in Alabama. First Class is managed by the Alabama Office of School Readiness. The office is part of the Alabama Department of Children’s Affairs, which is overseen by Governor Bentley. Governor Bentley once again called for increased funding for Voluntary Pre K in 2014. First Class Pre-K children consistently miss fewer days of school, they are less likely to need special education services and are less often retained than those children who are not in pre-k. Third-graders who were in pre-k scored at 100% reading proficiency. But the most significant result of children in pre-k is the impact on those who live in poverty from low-income families. Pre-k closed the achievement gap for lower income students by as much as 29%. [7]

—Robert Bentley's campaign website, (2014), [8]

Parker Griffith

Two of the biggest education needs in our state—early childhood education and access to college—will finally be addressed using lottery funds when I’m elected Governor.

Expand Early Childhood Education: Increase Benefits for Alabama Families

We must do everything to ensure that every child who is eligible for early childhood education has the opportunity to enroll in a pre-K program in our state,

Under my plan, lottery funds will be used supplement and expand funding for early-intervention and education programs like Head Start.

Higher Education

Only 33.1 percent of Alabamians have a college degree, significantly behind neighboring states with education lotteries. Georgia’s adult population with a college degree has risen to 37.4 percent, South Carolina’s 36.1 percent, North Carolina’s to 38.4 percent, and Florida’s 38.1 percent.

Initially under my plan, I’ll use lottery funds to cover a portion of college costs for Alabama high school graduates who choose to attend a two-year community college, including those who using community college as a pathway towards a four-year degree. My plan will also include funds for students who enroll in a work-training program.

As governor, my ultimate goal will be for any high school graduate in Alabama to attend a vocational or trade school or a two-year community or technical college for free and to provide a number of these graduates with financial assistance if they chose to continue their education at a four-year university.

I’ll work in partnership with the state legislature and business community to make that dream a reality before the end of my first term.

Supporting Our Students Means Growing Our Economy

Our state ranked 49th in job creation in 2013—with only 300 new jobs added during the entire year. So far in 2014, we are consistently finding Alabama ranked as the only state in the nation with a year-over-year rise in unemployment.

Looking specifically at Alabama’s unemployment rate for 16-19-year-olds, the number reached an astounding 21.9 percent in 2011. Only 71.8 percent of students graduated high school that year.

An education lottery would provide additional educational funding, which will help meet a desperate need among students and families for affordable early childhood education, college grants and scholarships, and work-training support.

But there’s much more to be done in our schools. A lottery will help, but we also need to revisit how we hold our schools accountable for performance and student outcomes. The Alabama Accountability Act of 2013 is nothing but a recycled version of No Child Left Behind, which has proved largely ineffective since signed into law in 2002.

Fixing our schools will help our economy, and we can’t afford to expect new results from old ideas. Our students, their families and the State of Alabama deserve better.

Legislators, Not Just Schools Should Be Held Accountable

The 2013 Alabama Accountability Act was intended to increase school choice and college access for low-income students and families, but in reality what are taxpayers getting for the $40 million of our hard-earned money spent every year? Those dollars are being pulled from public schools and handed over to private companies, all the while punishing our state’s teachers rather than addressing and fixing the causes of a “failing school.”

Public schools are deemed “failing” when they rank in the bottom six percent of schools on state test scores during two of the previous four years. Administrators of failing schools can then apply for a waiver from the state, allowing them to fire teachers regardless of tenure. How is this supposed to solve the problem when the cause of a failing school is never as simple as “bad teachers”? These failing schools are almost universally in the poorest neighborhoods. Poverty, violence, hunger, lack of parental involvement—the problems these students face will not magically go away by bringing in new teachers.

When a school is declared “failing,” another thing happens as well. Students in those schools are—on paper, at least—given the choice to enroll in another school somewhere else. But those other school options are often completely impractical and unattainable by their families. Single, working mothers love their children as much as anyone, but time is precious and limited.

The state of Alabama should be bolstering educational programs in our most challenging neighborhoods, not dismantling them. Firing teachers who are willing to take on the tough assignments is not the answer. Neither is raiding the school’s budget and punishing students already living in poverty.

Accomplishing Goals and Getting the Job Done

After the disastrous first term of Gov. Bentley, Alabama needs to work harder than most states to catch up with the rest of nation in most every important category—especially education.

State leaders will have to put politics aside and do more to help our students, our workforce, and our economy.

My plan draws upon the best parts of recent education lottery proposals from within our state but also important pieces from the plans in other states that are producing results.

Models from other states show that education‐based lotteries can vary, and the differences are not drawn along party lines. South Carolina spends almost 75 percent of lottery revenues on college aid, whereas North Carolina uses most of its revenues to support teachers in grades K-3.

Under my plan, establishing an education lottery will help our state do more than just catch up. It will better equip our students with the tools they need to compete in the 21st century economy and restore strength to Alabama’s hollowed-out workforce and struggling economy. [7]

—Parker Griffith's campaign website, (2014), [10]

Medicaid

Robert J. Bentley

We are reforming Medicaid in Alabama today to make it more efficient, and more effective to produce better outcomes. We are giving it back to the people, developing it from the ground up to serve the people of this state to care for the most vulnerable, the poor and the disabled. With Legislation passed in 2013 we are establishing regional care organizations, which will use community-based, managed care to improve the health of those on Medicaid, and lowering the cost to taxpayers. These reforms will serve three groups: patients who are receiving care, providers who are working to manage patient care and the taxpayers of the State of Alabama who are paying the bill. Patients will receive higher-quality care, providers will offer the best management of that care, and the taxpayers will have a better product at a lower cost. When I was still practicing medicine, I saw anyone who needed care. I would travel to some of the most impoverished counties in West Alabama and spend a day seeing and caring for patients. If they did not have the money to pay, I would not charge them. Many times, I would buy medications for those who could not afford to buy their prescriptions. As a practicing physician, I would never want anything to come between me and my patient – especially the federal government. [7]

—Robert Bentley's campaign website, (2014), [8]

Parker Griffith

Under the Griffith plan, which would require a waiver from the federal government because it is a market-based solution that uses private insurance instead of the standard Medicaid structure under the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare), the federal government would pay 100 percent of additional health care costs for the first three years, with the state responsible only for administrative costs. The state’s share of health care costs would gradually increase after three years and never exceed a maximum of 10 percent.

The Griffith plan is projected to provide health insurance under the Medicaid program to a minimum of 191,000 additional Alabamians in first year alone.

With an increase of $2.1 billion annually to Alabama’s GDP, the state is estimated to generate an additional $163 million to $237 million in annual tax revenue, based on varying research data. Over ten years, the Griffith plan will generate $1.6 billion or more in additional tax revenue while costing the state $1 billion, for an overall tax benefit to the state. [7]

—Parker Griffith's campaign website, (2014), [11]

Polls

Governor of Alabama
Poll Robert J. Bentley * (R) Parker Griffith (D)Undecided/OtherMargin of ErrorSample Size
New York Times/CBS News/YouGov
October 16-23
63%25%12%+/-6661
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org.

Note: An asterisk (*) denotes incumbent status.

Past elections

2010

Governor of Alabama, 2010
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngRobert J. Bentley 57.6% 860,472
     Democratic Ron Sparks 41.9% 625,710
     Write-in Write-in 0.5% 8,091
Total Votes 1,494,273

Voter turnout

Political scientist Michael McDonald's United States Elections Project studied voter turnout in the 2014 election by looking at the percentage of eligible voters who headed to the polls. McDonald used voting-eligible population (VEP), or the number of eligible voters independent of their current registration status, to calculate turnout rates in each state on November 4. He also incorporated ballots cast for the highest office in each state into his calculation. He estimated that 82,596,338 ballots were cast in the 50 states plus the District of Columbia, representing 36.4 percent of the VEP.[12] By comparison, 61.6 percent of VEP voted in the 2008 presidential election and 58.2 percent of VEP voted in the 2012 presidential election.[13]

Quick facts

  • According to PBS Newshour, voter turnout in the 2014 midterms was the lowest since the 1942 midterms, which took place during the nation's involvement in World War II.[14]
  • Forty-three states and the District of Columbia failed to surpass 50 percent turnout in McDonald's analysis.
  • The three states with the lowest turnout according to McDonald's analysis were Indiana (28 percent), Texas (28.5 percent) and Utah (28.8 percent).
  • Maine (59.3 percent), Wisconsin (56.9 percent) and Alaska (55.3 percent) were the three states with the highest turnout.
  • There were only 12 states that increased voter turnout in 2014 compared to the 2010 midterm elections.[15]
Voter turnout rates, 2014
State Total votes for top office  % voter eligible population Top statewide office up for election Size of lead (Raw votes) Size of lead (%)
Alabama 1,200,000 33.5 Governor 320,319 27.2
Alaska 290,000 55.3 Governor 4,004 1.6
Arizona 1,550,000 34.4 Governor 143,951 12.5
Arkansas 875,000 41.2 Governor 118,664 14
California 7,750,000 31.8 Governor 1,065,748 17.8
Colorado 2,025,000 53.0 Governor 50,395 2.4
Connecticut 1,089,880 42.3 Governor 26,603 2.5
Delaware 234,038 34.4 Attorney general 31,155 13.6
District of Columbia 150,000 30.3 Mayor 27,934 19
Florida 5,951,561 42.7 Governor 66,127 1.1
Georgia 2,575,000 38.2 Governor 202,685 8
Hawaii 366,125 36.2 Governor 45,323 12.4
Idaho 440,000 39.1 Governor 65,852 14.9
Illinois 3,550,000 39.5 Governor 171,900 4.9
Indiana 1,350,000 28.0 Secretary of state 234,978 17.8
Iowa 1,150,000 50.6 Governor 245,548 21.8
Kansas 875,000 42.8 Governor 33,052 3.9
Kentucky 1,440,000 44.2 U.S. Senate 222,096 15.5
Louisiana 1,472,039 43.8 U.S. Senate 16,401 1.1
Maine 625,000 59.3 Governor 29,820 4.9
Maryland 1,750,000 41.9 Governor 88,648 6.1
Massachusetts 2,150,000 43.9 Governor 40,361 1.9
Michigan 3,151,835 42.7 Governor 129,547 4.3
Minnesota 2,025,000 51.3 Governor 109,776 5.6
Mississippi 650,000 29.7 U.S. Senate 141,234 33
Missouri 1,450,000 32.3 Auditor 684,074 53.6
Montana 365,000 46.1 U.S. Senate 65,262 17.9
Nebraska 550,000 41.3 Governor 97,678 18.7
Nevada 600,000 31.8 Governor 255,793 46.7
New Hampshire 500,000 48.8 Governor 24,924 5.2
New Jersey 1,825,000 30.4 N/A N/A N/A
New Mexico 550,000 38.3 Governor 73,868 14.6
New York 3,900,000 28.8 Governor 476,252 13.4
North Carolina 2,900,000 40.7 U.S. Senate 48,511 1.7
North Dakota 248,670 43.8 U.S. House At-large seat 42,214 17.1
Ohio 3,150,000 36.2 Governor 933,235 30.9
Oklahoma 825,000 29.8 Governor 122,060 14.7
Oregon 1,500,000 52 Governor 59,029 4.5
Pennsylvania 3,500,000 36.1 Governor 339,261 9.8
Rhode Island 325,000 41.7 Governor 14,346 4.5
South Carolina 1,246,301 34.8 Governor 179,089 14.6
South Dakota 279,412 44.5 Governor 124,865 45.1
Tennessee 1,400,000 29.1 Governor 642,214 47.5
Texas 4,750,000 28.5 Governor 957,973 20.4
Utah 550,000 28.8 Attorney general 173,819 35.2
Vermont 193,087 38.8 Governor 2,095 1.1
Virginia 2,200,000 36.7 U.S. Senate 16,727 0.8
Washington 2,050,000 41.6 N/A N/A N/A
West Virginia 460,000 31.8 U.S. Senate 124,667 27.6
Wisconsin 2,425,000 56.9 Governor 137,607 5.7
Wyoming 168,390 38.7 Governor 52,703 33.6
United States 82,596,338 36.4

Note: Information from the United States Elections Project was last updated on November 19, 2014. The results in this table draw from unofficial results as of November 12, 2014.

Key deadlines

Deadline Event
February 7, 2014 Filing deadline
June 3, 2014 Primary election
July 15, 2014 Primary runoff
November 4, 2014 General election
November 14, 2014 Certification of general election results
January 19, 2015 Inauguration day for state executive officials in general election

Recent news

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See also

External links

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References