Alabama 2: A Blue Bright Spot in a Red State
October 20, 2023 · 5:00 PM EDT
Democrats have a rare opportunity to flip a House seat in the Heart of Dixie — and though the seat is anchored in Montgomery, it’s drawn interest from Democrats all across the state.
A panel of federal judges settled on a new congressional map two weeks ago, redrawing Alabama's 2nd District so that nearly a majority (48.7 percent) of the voting-age population is Black. Joe Biden would have won this district 56-43 percent, meaning a Democratic candidate should be in a strong position to flip this seat in 2024. For comparison, Donald Trump would have won the current 2nd by 29 points, and only 30.1 percent of its voting-age population is Black.
The new 2nd District stretches across the state from Mobile to the Georgia state line, encompassing Montgomery and the eastern portion of Alabama’s Black Belt. Several Democrats based in Montgomery and Mobile are weighing campaigns, along with several Democrats from Birmingham (about an hour outside of the district) and Huntsville (about 3 hours north of the district). Those from the district would have a clear edge in the Democratic primary, but depending on how crowded the field becomes, it could be anyone’s game.
The primary is set for March 5, and if no one wins a majority of the vote, the top two candidates will face each other in a runoff election on April 2.
Though numerous Democrats, and a few Republicans, have talked publicly about a potential run, most have yet to jump in the race. But the filing deadline for candidates is Nov. 10, so candidates have just a few weeks to make a decision.
The Potential Democratic Field
Steven Reed, the mayor of Montgomery, is at the top of the list of Democrats who’d be well-positioned to run for this seat. Earlier this week, Reed acknowledged that “it’s something that [he’s] deliberating on very intentionally” after his name had been floated for months.
Reed, 49, was first elected in 2019. The first Black mayor of Montgomery, he easily won re-election this August with 57 percent of the vote. The former probate judge has a well-known last name — his father, Alabama Democratic Conference Chairman Joe Reed, is one of the most powerful Democrats in the state.
“I don’t know that he’s a dominant frontrunner, but he’s a pretty clear frontrunner who keeps out a lot of other strong candidates,” one Democratic strategist told Inside Elections. But Democrats who spoke with Inside Elections said that Reed was still on the fence about running for Congress.
Until Reed makes a decision, other potential candidates (particularly those in the Montgomery area) are unlikely to jump in.
State Sen. Kirk Hatcher, who represents Montgomery in the state legislature, could run for the seat if Reed decides not to. The former English teacher and Baptist minister was first elected in 2021.
Alabama State University president Quinton Ross, who previously held Hatcher’s state Senate seat, could also run. Ross served in the state Senate for 15 years and could be a formidable candidate.
A few Democrats from Mobile are also weighing bids. State Sen. Vivian Figures, 66, has expressed interest in running for the new 2nd. Figures has served in the state legislature since 1997, when she was elected to succeed her late husband Sen. Michael Figures.
Democratic operatives who spoke with Inside Elections also mentioned Figures’ son, Shomari Figures, as a potential candidate — he currently works in the Department of Justice as a deputy chief of staff to the attorney general and previously worked for Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown. “There will be a Figures on the ballot,” one Alabama Democrat told Inside Elections, noting the strength of the family’s name.
State Rep. Napoleon Bracy also said he is “seriously considering” a campaign; he’s represented a district in Mobile County since 2011. Bracy is also the manager of Diversity & Inclusion at Austal USA, a shipbuilder in Mobile.
State Rep. Jeremy Gray, who hails from the eastern side of the district, could also run. Gray, the minority whip, represents parts of Lee and Russell Counties and owns a sports training business.
Several other Democrats outside of the 2nd are taking a look at the seat as well. State House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels would likely be the most formidable candidate in this group. Though he’s from Huntsville, several hours north of the 2nd, he grew up in the district.
State Sen. Merika Coleman, who represents Birmingham, filed to run for the 2nd District on Wednesday. Coleman served in the state House for two decades before she was elected to the state Senate in 2022.
Jefferson County Commissioner Sheila Tyson has also filed to run, and state Rep. Juandalynn Givan, who represents Birmingham, said she’s considering running. Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin was also mentioned by Alabama Democratic Party executive director Tom Miro as a potential candidate.
The Potential Republican Nominee
GOP Rep. Barry Moore, who represents the current 2nd District, has yet to announce his 2024 plans. A significant portion of the current 2nd, including Moore’s hometown in Coffee County, was drawn into the new 1st District, where GOP Rep. Jerry Carl is running for re-election.
Moore could either run against Carl in a member-on-member primary, or run for re-election in the new 2nd, where he’d face an uphill climb against the Democratic nominee. If Moore runs against Carl, he might have the Club for Growth on his side — the anti-tax group supported him in his 2020 campaign.
If the political environment favors the GOP in 2024, a strong Republican candidate could theoretically have a shot at winning this seat — Republican Katie Britt only lost this seat by half a point in 2022, 48.8 to 49.3 percent, as she won statewide by 36 points.
But it’s difficult to imagine Moore, a conservative firebrand and a member of the Freedom Caucus, running significantly ahead of Trump on the ballot. Trump would have lost the seat by 13 points in 2020 and 11 points in 2016.
Former state Sen. Dick Brewbaker has said that’d be interested in running for the 2nd if Moore doesn’t run. Brewbaker served in the state Senate from 2010 to 2018 and owned a car dealership in Montgomery until the beginning of this year. Pike Road Mayor Gordon Stone has said that he’s unlikely to run for the new 2nd but isn’t “closing any doors.”
The Bottom Line
Democrats only need to net five seats to take control of the House, so their ability to flip this seat could be decisive. And the courts’ decision in Alabama will have ripple effects on redistricting cases in Louisiana, Georgia, and North Carolina that could impact more congressional maps ahead of 2024.
Inside Elections rating: Likely Democratic.