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Republican voters pick nominee for Lt. Governor

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Will Ainsworth has won the Republican nomination for Lt. Governor after a hard-fought and expensive runoff.

The winner now faces Democrat Will Boyd in the Nov. 6 general election.

The lieutenant governor’s office has been vacant since April 2017, when now-Gov. Kay Ivey replaced Robert Bentley. Bentley resigned amid allegations of an affair and cover-up.

The lieutenant governor presides over the Alabama Senate, but the office doesn’t carry a lot of power. The exception to that is under Alabama law the lieutenant governor becomes governor if anything happens to the state’s top executive.

The runoff was required after Ainsworth, 37, a state representative from Guntersville, had a strong showing in a primary that Cavanaugh was expected to dominate.

He sought to build on that momentum in the runoff, spending more than $2 million so far in the race. That figure includes more than $1 million he loaned his campaign.

Cavanaugh, 52, the chair of the Alabama Public Service Commission won 43 percent of the vote in the primary. Her campaign also spent more than $2 million.

And it was a Cavanaugh ad, that chronicled criminal charges against Ainsworth dating back to his college days that roiled the race. The ad questioned whether Ainsworth received favorable treatment in the criminal justice system.

Ainsworth said the felony theft charge he faced was a college prank and was later dropped after he paid a fine and performed community service. Ainsworth said he became a youth pastor and used his past to help guide young people. He called Cavanaugh a career politician and lobbyist.

Both candidates focused on their Christian faith — with the Bible and churches featured prominently in ads — and family values during the campaign.