The race to fill Alabama’s new 2nd Congressional District will be a crowded one.
Twenty-one candidates – 13 Democrats and eight Republicans – have entered the race. The Democratic candidates are:
- James Averhart, a retired U.S. Marine and former 2020 congressional candidate;
- Rep. Napoleon Bracy, Jr., D-Prichard;
- Sen. Merika Coleman, D- Pleasant Grove;
- House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels, D-Huntsville;
- Shomari Figures, a former deputy chief of staff to the U.S. attorney general and the son of Sen. Vivian Davis Figures, D-Mobile;
- Brian Gary;
- Rep. Juandalynn Givan, D-Birmingham;
- Rep. Jeremy Gray, D-Opelika;
- Phyllis Harvey-Hall, an education consultant and 2020 and 2022 congressional candidate;
- Willie J. Lenard;
- Vimal Patel, a realtor;
- Larry Darnell Simpson, a musician;
- Darryl Sinkfield.
Eight Republicans are vying for the seat. Qualified candidates are:
- Sen. Greg Albritton, R-Atmore;
- Former Sen. Dick Brewbaker, R-Pike Road;
- Caroleene Dobson, an attorney;
- Karla M. DuPriest, a business owner and 2022 U.S. Senate candidate;
- Wallace Gilberry, a former University of Alabama and NFL football player;
- Hampton Harris, a realtor;
- Stacey T. Shepperson;
- Belinda Thomas, a member of the Newton City Council in Dale County.
The lineup changed at the last minute Friday, with prominent candidates such as Coleman, who had been considering the race for weeks, entering the race and the departure of Sen. Kirk Hatcher, D-Montgomery, who had announced his candidacy for the seat late last month.
“I am well-tutored in the knowledge that just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should,” he wrote in a message to the Alabama Reflector on Friday. “Instead I’m looking forward to continuing to serve the people of District 26 alongside my good friends in the Senate.”
Coleman, who formally announced her candidacy Friday afternoon, said she wanted to “amplify our shared values, break barriers, and build a future where every Alabamian’s voice is not just heard but celebrated.”
The seat is expected to lean Democratic, though the general election could be competitive.
The district extends from Washington and northern Mobile counties on the border with Mississippi though the southern Black Belt, extending up to Montgomery County and to Russell and Barbour counties on the Georgia line.
A federal court approved a new congressional map for the state in October after almost two years of litigation between the state and Alabama residents who said a 2021 congressional map effectively silenced their voices in the political process.
The court directed a special master to draw two congressional districts – Districts 2 and 7 – that would give Black voters the opportunity to elect their preferred leaders. The 7th Congressional District, taking in portions of Birmingham and the western Black Belt, has a Black voting age population of about 52%; the 2nd district’s BVAP is just under 49%.
Because of the racial polarization of voting in Alabama, where white Alabamians tend to vote for Republicans and Black Alabamians tend to vote for Democrats, the 2nd Congressional District is expected to favor Democratic candidates.
Democrats in the race have said they want to improve services in the district, particularly education, infrastructure and health care. Bracy said in his announcement that education, healthcare, economics, and workforce development is the “heart of progress,” and that communities in poverty have watched the “world grow around us while feeling the strain of disinvestment.”
Daniels, who has been in the House of Representatives since 2014, has cited a lack of maternal care and OB-GYNs, and said he would try to find ways to coax Alabama to expand Medicaid.
Givan said she wanted to be an advocate for the district and said providing access to health care would be one of her priorities.
Gray, first elected to the Alabama House of Representatives in 2018, cited issues including reliable housing, childcare and women’s rights in an announcement on Facebook.
Republican candidates have generally cited the economy in their announcements.
Brewbaker said rising living costs were a priority for him, while Albritton said that he knows the economy of the district and has a track record through “knowing what the needs are and knowing the people that are suffering from those problems.
Dobson has opted for a more explicit culture war approach, saying in her announcement that she would fight for “our families, our farms, and our faith” in Washington and “go to battle against those on the far left who want to control how we use our property and what we do, think, and say.”
Hatcher’s withdrawal left Montgomery, the biggest city in the district and a blue-leaning area, without a major Democratic candidate as of Friday afternoon.
Primaries for the seat will take place in March.