When the votes were tallied in the House District 55 special election Democratic primary Tuesday night, two of the most promising candidates from the Alabama Democratic Party were preparing for a runoff against each other.
Travis Hendrix, a sergeant with the Birmingham Police Department and a school resource officer, and Sylvia Swayne, Alabama’s first openly trans candidate, pulled in 28 percent and 21 percent, respectively, to top the field in the Jefferson County district.
The runoff election is set for Oct. 24. There is no Republican challenger.
“I’ve said all along that I planned to put in the work and fight for the right to serve this community, and I plan to keep fighting,” Hendrix said. “This was the first step in that process and I appreciate the voters supporting me. My campaign has been about getting out and connecting with people and we will keep doing that. I was born in the district, raised in the district, educated in the district and I’ve been serving our community for the last 15 years as a police officer. I feel like I’m the candidate who understands the needs of this district the best, and I hope the people here will do me the honor of allowing me to continue to serve them.”
For her part, Swayne has focused her campaign on Medicaid expansion and education. She told CBS-42 in Birmingham, prior to the election results, that she just wants to advance a larger conversation and look for ways to better the state.
Not surprisingly, as an openly trans candidate in a deeply red state, Swayne’s campaign has drawn support from a number of LGBTQ+ groups from around the country, and that supply of campaign funds will make her a formidable candidate in what is likely to be a low-turnout runoff.
Still, Hendrix said he would lean into his years of service as a police officer and his lifelong history in the community to make up for any funding deficits.
Tuesday’s election was another heartbreaker for Phyllis Oden-Jones, who fell just 30 votes shy of making the runoff. She fell 48 votes short in the 2022 primary, which was eventually won by Fred Plump.
It’s Plump’s conviction on federal conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges that led to Tuesday’s primary. As part of a plea deal in the ongoing investigation, Plump agreed to resign the HD55 seat.