It didn’t take long for someone to fire the first shot in the Russell County political season.
The sheriff did it.
Less than 30 minutes after the Russell County Democratic Executive Committee opened qualifying Monday afternoon, first-term Sheriff Heath Taylor paid his $1,800 fee and sent a message to anyone who wishes to challenge him in the June primary.
“I just want the community to know that I am running,” said Taylor, 46. “I don’t know that I am sending a message, but I want them to know I am qualified and I am going to seek re-election.”
Qualifying ends at 5 p.m. Feb. 7. The Democratic and Republican primaries are June 3, with the general election Nov. 4.
In 2010, Taylor, a longtime Russell County deputy, defeated Jeff Gibson with 70 percent of the vote. Taylor, who now has 26 years in the department, said he does not know if a challenge will present itself, but he is prepared.
“I am ready right now to gear up,” Taylor said.
He said he spent about $80,000 four years ago to win the seat. He has about $6,000 in his campaign account and is prepared to raise $100,000, if needed. “I am going to do what I have to do,” he said.
The Russell County Democratic Executive Committee is not trying to drum up a challenger, said Chairman J.W. Brannen.
“The party doesn’t actively look for a candidate when you got a good sheriff,” Brannen said. “We got a good sheriff.”
Typically the battle for county-side seats such as sheriff are fought in the Democratic primary. There has not been a Republican county-wide elected official in Russell County since the 1800s.
“We pull out all of the stops when it comes to Democrats in Russell County,” Brannen said. “Our Democrats are the good, conservative Democrats.” Brannen said he had not heard of opposition for Taylor.