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Opinion | 2nd Congressional District primary runoffs approach

This is the most interesting and entertaining political contest in Alabama this year.  

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Those of you who live in the new 2nd congressional district have runoffs this coming Tuesday, April 16. This is the most interesting and entertaining political contest in Alabama this year.  

This new seat is comprised of all of Montgomery County, as well as most of the more rural counties surrounding Montgomery, including Macon, Lowndes, Bullock, Pike, Butler, Crenshaw, Barbour, and Russell. It continues through rural Black Belt counties like an arrow towards Mobile and gathers most of the Black voters in Mobile.  

This gerrymandered new district was created by the federal courts to implement a new Democratic Black District in the Heart of Dixie. Currently, we have six Republican congressmen and one Democrat.  If the court plan succeeds with the election of a new Black congressman to join our lone Democrat, Terri Sewell, then we will have two Democrats and five Republicans representing us on the Potomac. The Democrat will be favored to win this seat come November. 

Alabama has a super majority Republican legislature, which diligently fought the court, to make it a less Democratic district. However, their arguments to the court were very lame. The argument that because Mobile County had never been split in half and the county needed to be together because of a “community of interest” flew in the face of what the court was asking for and actually made the plaintiffs’ case for them. If you know that area of the state, you also know that those seven aforementioned counties surrounding Montgomery have more of a “community of interest” with Montgomery than Black voters in Mobile/Pritchard have with White flight Baldwin County Republicans.

Half of the folks in the counties south of Montgomery have kinfolks, brothers, cousins, and grandchildren that live in Montgomery. Most of those people have moved from those counties to Montgomery to work or still live there and commute. They have shopped and gone to the doctor in Montgomery and watched Montgomery television stations for generations.

Bless the folks in Macon County’s heart. The most historic Black city in the country, Tuskegee, along with the rich HBCU Tuskegee University legacy have been stuck in the bottom of the gerrymandered Republican 3rd district for decades with a White Republican congressman from Anniston supposedly representing them. You cannot tell me that the good folks of Macon County will not be more at home with and better taken care of by having a congressman of their persuasion who knows their interests.

The Democratic runoff will be between Mobilian Shomari Figures and Huntsville State Representative Anthony Daniels. Some of you may be scratching your head and asking how in the world a Representative from Huntsville is running for Congress in South Alabama. Federal law does not require a person to live in the district to run for Congress. 

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A host of Anthony’s legislative colleagues attempted to use this carpetbagging loophole to capture this new open perceived Democratic seat, but it did not work out too well for them. The homegrown boy Shomari Figures trounced them, especially in his home county of Mobile. It did not hurt that Shomari’s mother, Vivian Figures, is probably one of the most popular Democratic State Senators in the history of the Port City. 

One of the more remarkable victories for Figures in the March 5 primary, was the amazing vote he received in Montgomery. Figures campaigned extensively in the two urban vote centers of Mobile and Montgomery and it paid dividends. He got a whopping 50 percent of the vote in Mobile. That means he outdistanced all 10 of his opponents combined. His 40 percent of the vote in Montgomery was even more amazing. He crushed Joe Reed’s vaunted ADC machine, who backed Mobile State Representative Napoleon Bracy.

Bracy finished a distant third in the race with 15 percent. It stands to reason that Bracy’s votes will accrue to this fellow Mobilian on Tuesday. Shomari Figures has a substantial lead going into next week and his lead is probably insurmountable.

In the Republican primary, former Montgomery State Senator Dick Brewbaker led young Attorney Caroleene Dobson 39 percent to 27 percent. Brewbaker won most of his votes in his home county of Montgomery where he garnered an impressive 67 percent of the vote. If Caroleene is to overtake him, she will have to do it in Mobile and the southern portion of the new district.

See you next week.

Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.

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