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Election shows GOP dominance in every Alabama office; Democrats look for way to rebuild

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MONTGOMERY, Alabama — Republicans have won every statewide race in the last three elections and on Tuesday the GOP tacked on to what was already a supermajority in the Alabama Legislature.

The red state became even redder as Republicans further cemented their status as the dominant party.

"I think the people of Alabama identify more with the beliefs of the Republican Party right now. We're a very red state. We're a very conservative state. It doesn't hurt that we have a very dysfunctional federal government," Gov. Robert Bentley said Wednesday.

Alabama Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy Worley said Democrats will need to take a deep look at what happened in Tuesday's races as they look to rebuild.

"We will continue the fight for a better economy, public education, affordable health care," Worley said.

Democrats once had a rock solid lock on Deep South states with the only competition in the party's primary. Southern statehouses and statewide offices slowly drifted to the GOP until control was wrested away.

"The Republican hold on this state is as great as the Democrats had in the past," said D'Linell Finley, a political scientist at Alabama State University.

Bentley's 63.6 percent of the vote was the largest winning margin ever for a modern-day Republican governor in Alabama. Other Republicans won by similar double digits as they pushed back a slate of mostly poorly funded Democrats.

Joe Hubbard, aided by a $2 million campaign war chest, was the best-performing Democrat in Tuesday's election, but still only hit 42 percent of the vote in his effort to unseat Republican Attorney General Luther Strange.

Midterm elections typically favor the party that does not control the White House. Democrats said they were particularly hurt by President Barack Obama's unpopularity as Republicans campaigned on anti-Obama sentiment even in local races that had nothing to do with federal policies

"I think the voters voted against President Obama. They didn't vote against health care or education," said Democrat Parker Griffith, who lost to Bentley.

Alabama Democrats used to separate themselves from their national party and run as "Southern Democrats." Griffith said Tuesday's election showed they have been unable to distinguish themselves as separate Democratic brand.

Finley said Democrats spent so much time trying to distance themselves from Obama that they never presented a clear message of what they wanted to do.

Worley said she believes issues supported by Democrats poll well with Alabama voters but the party has been unable to make that translate to votes on Election Day.

"Somehow we've got to figure out a way to make that connection," Worley said.

The last Democrat to win a statewide race in Alabama was Lucy Baxley who was elected as President of the Public Service Commission in 2008. Republicans swept the 2010 races. Baxley was unseated in 2012 by Twinkle Andress-Cavanaugh. Republicans again swept all statewide races on Tuesday.

Republicans in 2010 toppled more than a century of statehouse control by Democrats.

hey extended their dominance on Tuesday. While some races could be headed to recounts, Republicans appeared to have gone from 66 seats to 72 in the 105-member Senate. Republicans in the 35-member Alabama Senate jumped from 23 seats to at least 25 with one hotly contested race being too close to call Wednesday.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, said he believed voters showed their confidence in the GOP-controlled Alabama Legislature.

"They've looked at the job we've done. We've balanced budgets. We've been fiscally responsible," Marsh said.

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