A few days ago, state Sen. Kirk Hatcher was having a conversation with his longtime friend, Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed, and some others about the upcoming race for the newly drawn 2nd congressional district seat.
They talked about what an opportunity the state had with the seat. What an opportunity it could be for the city of Montgomery and the surrounding area. How the right person could really make a difference.
“When we finished, I said, ‘So, who is it that we can support for this?’” Hatcher said. “And I noticed they were looking at me.”
Hatcher plans to formally announce his candidacy for the seat later this week, but he told APR on Sunday evening that he’s committed, even if somewhat reluctantly.
“If anyone ever tells you that there isn’t some pain with a calling, they’re either lying or they weren’t really called,” Hatcher said. “The only reason I have any apprehension is because of the positions I currently find myself, and the opportunities that they have presented me in serving people and making a difference for the community that is important to me. But I am prepared to take on this challenge. I’d never commit to do it without the willingness to complete the task.”
Hatcher’s candidacy also sends another important message: Reed isn’t running for the seat. Instead, a source close to the Reed camp told APR that Hatcher will get their support as Reed continues forward as mayor of Montgomery.
That news will likely spur other candidates into action. For the last few weeks, several Democratic candidates have been hesitant to announce their campaigns for the seat as they awaited Reed’s call. Now that he’s out – even if the Reed machine has a favorite – those candidates will likely see lanes of opportunity.
But they shouldn’t underestimate Hatcher and his relatively short time in public office. Hatcher was first elected to the Alabama House in 2018, and then he won his current Senate seat in 2020. But in gaining those seats, he beat two longtime politicians and two of the biggest names in Montgomery Democratic circles – Alvin Holmes and John Knight.
In both instances, Joe Reed, chairman of the Alabama Democratic Conference, and his formidable voting bloc that stretches from Montgomery and into the Black Belt, assisted Hatcher. It also doesn’t hurt that Hatcher is a likable and professional candidate who wants to do good things and treats people with respect. He’s well liked on both sides of the aisle.
“This seat presents us with a very big and very unique opportunity,” Hatcher said. “It’s been 40 or 41 years since the whole of Montgomery has been represented in Congress by someone who lives in Montgomery. For Senate, you’d have to go back to Lister Hill (in the 1960s). We have an opportunity now to have both a Representative and a U.S. Senator, in Katie Britt, who I call a friend, to represent this area and bring in much needed resources.”
Hatcher’s underlying message with those comments is clear – that the right candidate for the seat should come from Montgomery or the surrounding area. That’s a point he’ll likely hammer in the coming days because the person likely to be his biggest challenge in the race is current Alabama House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels.
Daniels, a Bullock County native with deep ties to the 2nd District area, has represented HD53 in Huntsville for the past decade. Daniels will be a formidable candidate with plenty of financial backing and a solid record. He’ll also rack up lots of important endorsements
Still, Hatcher believes his current ties to the Montgomery area will be important to voters and give him an advantage over Daniels and other candidates from outside of the area.
“There’s something, I believe, to be said for friends and neighbors with the emotional connection to the area and to the unique problems we face,” Hatcher said. “That’s to say nothing bad of those other candidates. I know them and I think they’re fine people. But we would not go into Birmingham or to Huntsville. We have people who can represent this area. We have an opportunity to bring great things into this region and force changes that we’ve long talked about.”