Voters to decide primary runoffs in Alabama's new 2nd Congressional District

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama voters are set to cast their ballots Tuesday to decide party nominees for the state’s 2nd Congressional District, which was redrawn by a federal court to boost the voting power of Black residents.

The outcome of the hotly contested runoffs will set the match for the closely watched November race. Democrats are aiming to flip the Deep South seat, and Republicans, with control of the U.S. House of Representatives on the line, will try to keep it under the GOP column.

A federal court redrew the district in October after ruling that the state’s previous congressional map — which had only one majority-Black district out of seven in a state that is about 27% Black — illegally diluted the voting power of Black residents. The new district stretches the width of the state, including Mobile, the capital of Montgomery and the state’s Black Belt.

For the Democratic nomination, Shomari Figures, former deputy chief of staff and counselor to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, faces off against state Rep. Anthony Daniels, the minority leader of the state House. On the Republican side, former state Sen. Dick Brewbaker faces real estate attorney and political newcomer Caroleene Dobson to decide the party’s nomination.

The non-partisan Cook Political Report rated the district as “likely Democrat,” meaning that it favors the Democratic candidate in November but isn’t considered a sure thing. The November race could lead to Alabama having two Black congressional representatives in its delegation for the first time in history.

Figures and Daniels, who are both Black, were the top two vote-getters in the crowded field of 11 Democrats who sought the nomination. Both men have stressed their experience — Figures in Washington and Daniels in Montgomery.

Figures, an attorney, also served as an aide to former President Barrack Obama, serving as domestic director of the Presidential Personnel Office, and as a congressional staffer for U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio. He is the son of two prominent Alabama legislators, long-time state Sen. Vivian Davis Figures and the late Senate President Pro Tem Michael Figures. Figures moved back to Mobile from Washington D.C. to run for the congressional seat.

Daniels, a former teacher and business owner, was elected to the Alabama Legislature in 2014. He was elected minority leader in 2017, becoming the first Black man to hold the post. He lives in Huntsville, which is outside the 2nd District, but his campaign has emphasized that he grew up in the district and has worked on legislative issues for the entire state.

Figures led in the initial round of voting, capturing about 43% of the vote. Daniels finished second at about 22%.

Runoffs are required in both races because no candidate captured more than 50% of the vote in the March 5 primary.

Brewbaker led in the March primary, capturing 37% of the vote to Dobson’s 24.76%.

Dobson, who was raised in Monroe County, lived and practiced law in Texas before returning to Alabama and joining the Maynard Nexsen law firm in 2019. She is a member of the Alabama Forestry Commission.

Brewbaker, a businessman and owner of a Montgomery car dealership, served a term in the Alabama House and two terms in the Alabama Senate. He did not seek reelection in 2018.

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