Updated: June 2, 12:41 a.m.
The race to replace Alabama Rep. Artur Davis (D) is headed for a Democratic runoff July 13 between lawyer Terri Sewell and Jefferson County Commissioner Shelia Smoot.
The runoff will all but decide who will replace Davis in the overwhelmingly Democratic 7th district.
Sewell cruised to a first-place finish in Tuesday’s primary, taking 37 percent of the vote. But the Associated Press did not call the second-place finisher until almost 12:30 a.m. Wednesday. Smoot took more than 28 percent, while state Rep. Earl Hilliard Jr. finished with 27 percent.
At the outset of the primary, Hilliard — the son of former Rep. Earl Hilliard Sr. — and Smoot were seen as the candidates with the best name identification in the district. But Sewell, a political newcomer, ran a campaign that was marked by its strong fundraising, which allowed her to run a nearly monthlong media blitz that appears to have served her well. Hilliard and Smoot didn’t go on the air until late last month.
Davis gave up the Congressional seat to run for governor, but he lost the Democratic primary Tuesday by almost 30 points.