Soon after the pandemic hit, officials in both states postponed the primary runoffs. Alabama’s contests were originally scheduled for March 31, while Texas’ were supposed to be on May 26. The delay allowed campaigns time to adjust to a new world of virtual campaigning.
“It was as if we were frozen in time for a few months,” said Craig Murphy, spokesperson for Republican lobbyist Josh Winegarner, who faces former White House physician Ronny Jackson in a runoff in Texas’ 13th District.
After delaying the elections and ordering residents to stay at home, both states began to reopen in May. Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott has now paused that process as cases have spiked in recent weeks. This week he ordered that masks be worn in counties with more than 20 cases. On Tuesday, one week before the runoff, Texas reported 10,000 new coronavirus cases, a record for the Lone Star State.
Alabama has also seen cases rise sharply since June. Last week Republican Gov. Kay Ivey extended her “Safe at Home” order, which was supposed to expire at the end of June, until the end of July.
The runoffs are also moving forward amid ongoing legal challenges related to voting by mail in both states. The Supreme Court recently blocked a lawsuit and declined to expedite another seeking to expand voting by mail in Texas, which is limited to people who are over 65, have a physical disability, are out of the country or in jail. The high court also stayed a lower court ruling that had stuck down some requirements around applying for absentee ballots in Alabama.
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