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A Democratic flip: Lands wins HD10 race in landslide

Marilyn Lands’ decisive victory has been hailed by Democrats nationally as a sign of things to come.

Marilyn Lands
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A pro-choice Democrat flipped an Alabama House seat on Tuesday, and it wasn’t close. 

In a special election for House District 10, located in Madison County, Marilyn Lands cruised to an easy, 25-point victory over Republican and Madison City Councilman Teddy Powell. 

Lands made reproductive health care a fixture of her campaign – a strategy boosted in recent weeks by Alabama’s in vitro fertilization problems, which were a direct result of the state’s draconian anti-abortion law. 

“Today, Alabama women and families sent a clear message that will be heard in Montgomery and across the nation,” Lands said in a statement. “Our legislature must repeal Alabama’s no-exceptions abortion ban, fully restore access to IVF, and protect the right to contraception.” 

Lands’ decisive victory was hailed by Democrats and pundits across the country as a warning flag for the upcoming 2024 general election, and specifically the role that reproductive health care and the IVF issue could play. Republicans have lost significant ground nationally since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022. 

In Alabama, though, Lands’ victory was the first major indication that the issue might be a driving force in contested elections – mainly because there are so few in the extremely gerrymandered state. Despite an abortion law that offers no exceptions for rape or incest – or the age of the victim in such cases – Republican legislators didn’t lose a seat from their supermajority in 2022. 

Still, the HD10 numbers are striking. 

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Lands lost in a race for the same district in 2022, as ALGOP newcomer David Cole, a doctor who had never held public office, won by six points. Lands’ 2022 campaign was well financed and well run, and she had the endorsement of the Republican who previously held the seat. 

To turn that six-point loss into a 25-point victory less than two years later, even with the lower turnout numbers for a special election, is a remarkable feat. 

“Tonight’s victory is a political earthquake in Alabama – the heart of Republican territory and ground zero for the most egregious attacks on our fundamental freedoms,” said Heather Williams, the president of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee. “In the first real test of backlash from voters on attacks on reproductive care and IVF, Alabama voters showed up in force to support Democrat Marilyn Lands, who ran courageously and unabashedly as a defender of reproductive freedoms.”

Lands said she planned to keep her promises to work for all of the citizens in HD10. 

“I look forward to representing everyone in District 10 and building a brighter future for Alabama,” she said. “The campaign might have ended, but our work is just beginning.”

Tuesday’s special election became necessary after Cole was forced to plead guilty to election fraud and resign from the House. The charges stemmed from a scheme in which Cole, whose home was just outside of the HD10 boundary lines, used a friend’s address to register to vote and on his official paperwork to run for office. Cole voted in at least two different elections using the bogus address, thus committing election fraud. He served 60 days in the Madison County jail, had to repay $53,000 in salary for the House position and is serving a three-year probation term.

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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