After all the bluster, spending, and fierce campaigning in the lead-up to the 2022 elections on Tuesday, the parties in the Alabama Legislature now hold the same amount of seats in both chambers as they did the previous day, despite individual examples of flips and upsets.
Tuesday’s election resulted in the trifecta of total Republican control in state government being maintained in the governor’s office and both the Alabama House and Senate. The party makeup is as it was on Monday: 27 Republicans and eight Democrats in the Alabama state Senate, and 76 Republicans and 28 Democrats in the Alabama state House.
The Republicans’ supermajorities are filibuster-proof.
A slate of several Democratic challengers in traditionally Republican districts in and around Madison County failed to win a single election in the area, despite coming close in at least one instance and months of close campaigning and fundraising. All at a time when there were more Libertarian candidates running for office than state Democrats.
One silver lining for Democrats perhaps was the Alabama Senate District 33 race, where State Sen. Vivian Figures, D-Mobile, whose district in Mobile County had been reorganized to include Republican-leaning voters in the western stretch of nearby Baldwin County, won her election by wide margins against Republican nominee Pete Riehm. The victory comes after weeks of speculation that her district was growing increasingly competitive and could flip, ousting the multi-decade Democratic lawmaker.
Out of 34,434 votes cast, Figures received 23,027 to Riehm’s 11,356, according to unofficial results from the Alabama Secretary of State, amassing a little under 67 percent of the total votes cast on Tuesday.
Despite the unchanging party makeup in both chambers, both a Democrat and a Republican unseated incumbents of the opposite party in races for the Alabama House.
Democratic candidate Phillip Ensler, a former advisor to Montgomery Mayor Stephen Reed and the first Jewish man elected to the Alabama Legislature in over four decades, unseated state House District 74 incumbent state Rep. Charlotte Meadows, R-Montgomery, who controlled the district since 2019.
The victory marked the first time that a Democrat had flipped a Republican district since the end of Democratic control of the Alabama Legislature in 2010.
“I’m very excited, honored to be the next representative for District 74,” Ensler said in an interview with APR on Tuesday. “Really, the turnout today showed that residents and the community want a positive, inclusive vision and someone focused on solutions, not pandering, not negativity, but actually addressing the quality of life issues.”
According to the unofficial results released by the Alabama Secretary of State’s Office early Wednesday morning, Ensler amassed precisely 60 percent of the total vote, gaining 7,490 votes to Meadows’ 4,972 of 12,484 total votes cast. District 74 has almost 37,000 voting-age individuals living within its borders, according to U.S. Census Data, making Tuesday’s turnout approximately 34 percent in the district.
In a statement released on Facebook on Tuesday evening, Meadows congratulated Ensler.
“We put it all on the field and left nothing out there,” Meadows said on Tuesday. “I am so grateful to all of my Montgomery County party members, the state party, the Republican caucus and so many voters that gave me their vote. I don’t know what I will do next, but I do know that I will continue to help people and fight to improve education for all children.”
In the wiregrass, Republican candidate Rick Rehm, a member of the Republican Executive Committee in Dothan and a retired U.S. Army veteran, unseated Democratic incumbent state Rep. Dexter Grimsley, D-Newville, by a little over a thousand votes on Tuesday evening.
The victory now secures the state’s southeastern-most region as uniformly Republican and flips a district that has been under Democratic control for much of the last two decades.
Rehm ultimately received 6,650 votes to Grimsley’s 5,644, according to the unofficial results from the Alabama Secretary of State’s office obtained early Wednesday, with 12,296 total votes cast in the district election.
As of early Wednesday morning, 1,419,718 votes were cast in all 67 Alabama counties, according to the Alabama Secretary of State’s office, with voter turnout at 38.50 percent, or a little over 1/3 of registered voters.