Category: Alabama Legislature

Written in Black and White: In Alabama’s Statehouse, the Parties Are Split Almost Entirely by Race

When newly elected Neil Rafferty takes his place in the Alabama House of Representatives next year, he will be the only white Democrat in the 105-seat chamber

With one other white Democrat in the Senate, the Alabama Legislature’s two parties are almost entirely divided by race. An all-white GOP has a supermajority.

“You can’t deny the optics at times,” Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, said about the party and racial split. He’s been a lawmaker since 2006 and has seen the racial polarization increase as the white Democrats dwindled in numbers.

Less than 10 years ago, in the 2006-2010 term, there were 62 Democrats in the House. More than half of them were white, said House public information officer Clay Redden. Now, there are 28 Democrats total. Republicans picked up five more seats in last week’s election.

In all, more than 75 percent of the members of the Legislature were white less than a decade ago, and more than 60 percent were Democrats, according to an analysis done at the time by The Birmingham News.

Being the minority race in the minority party isn’t something Rafferty, D-Birmingham, said he’s thought too much about.

“I’m going to go down there with humility and an eagerness and willingness to work with my colleagues, all of my colleagues, for the betterment of the state and House District 54,” he said last week.

But race has been an issue in the Statehouse in recent years.

England is concerned that, without diversity among parties, all issues begin to be viewed in a racial context.

“Racial issues are important, they are, but not everything is racial,” he said. “You don’t want everything to be painted with a broad brush because of the messenger and lose the message.” Read more.

Two New Lawmakers to Join Incumbents in Jefferson Legislative Delegation

Incumbent Alabama lawmakers serving Jefferson County all won re-election in Tuesday’s general election voting, and two new members who ran for open seats, will join the Jefferson County delegation.

Republican Senate candidate Dan Roberts and Democratic House candidate Neil Rafferty will be a part of a large freshman group in the 2019 Alabama Legislature after 22 House members and 10 senators retired in 2018 or resigned to seek other offices or positions.

The addition of Roberts and Rafferty, a Republican and a Democrat, does not change the political party makeup of the county delegation since they replaced a Republican and a Democrat. Read more.