In 1986, conservative Democrat Charles Graddick narrowly won his party’s nomination for governor. Normally, this would have meant a direct trip to the governor’s office, as Alabama had elected only Democratic governors since 1874 (the races were rarely close). But the loser in the Democratic primary, Lt. Gov. Bill Baxley, contested the nomination, claiming that Republicans had voted illegally in the primary. The state Supreme Court sided with Baxley. Graddick’s supporters were outraged, and in the fall, Republican Guy Hunt shocked observers by handily winning the general election.
Republicans have lost only one gubernatorial race since and now control every statewide office in Alabama. There was the potential for some drama this cycle, as Gov. Robert Bentley resigned amid a sex scandal, resulting in a promotion for Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey. But Ivey seems to have weathered things well, and is a solid favorite against Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox.