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Montgomery

Steve Flowers: Runoffs set for new Second Congressional District primary races

The most interesting and paramount race on the ballot in the March 5 primaries was the one for the new open Second Congressional District.

This gerrymandered new district was created by the Federal Courts to implement a new Democratic/Black District in the Heart of Dixie. The Democratic nominee will be favored to win this seat in November. When the plaintiffs proposed their new district plan to the Court, they attached a chart, which illustrated that had there been a Democratic vs. Republican congressional race on the ballot the Democrat would have won in 16 of the 17 races. Washington insiders are handicapping this race as a Democratic pickup.

However, the Republican Party is not going to give this seat up without a major fight.  There will be an avalanche of campaign money flowing from Washington into this race in the fall. This seat could be the deciding factor into which party has the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.

With it being an open seat, both parties had a plethora of candidates. There were seven GOP aspirants and 11 Democratic hopefuls. Many of the Democrats were legislators, who lived outside the district. The ones who had no ties to the district faired rather poorly.

From the beginning, the front runner for the Republican nomination was former State Sen. Dick Brewbaker of Montgomery. He indeed led the ticket on March 5 with 39% of the vote.  He will be joined by political newcomer Caroleene Dobson, who received 27%. She ran a perfect campaign and edged State Sen. Greg Albritton out of the runoff. Albritton, who did very little campaigning got 25% of the vote, mostly from the southern part of the district.

Brewbaker got the bulk of his votes in Montgomery. He received 67% of the vote in his home county.  He was a very accomplished and diligent state representative and state senator, and his family owned a very well known and respected car dealership for generations. He enjoys immense name identification in the Montgomery River Region.

Caroleene Dobson is a young mother and Montgomery attorney with an undergraduate degree from Harvard and law degree from Baylor. She grew up in Monroe County, the daughter of a prominent cattle family. She did well in the rural counties of the district, probably bolstered by her being endorsed by Alfa. Dobson defeated Brewbaker in Mobile and the southern part of the district. She has a chance to prevail in the April 16 runoff.  However, with over a 12-point lead, Brewbaker will be favored to emerge as the Republican standard bearer for the fall battle royale.

Shomari Figures emerged as the new superstar in the Democratic Party with his very impressive performance in the Democratic primary on March 5. He garnered a whopping 44% of the vote against 11 opponents, including five sitting Democratic state legislators. The second-place finisher was State Rep. Anthony Daniels of Huntsville who finished with 23%. Daniels is the State House of Representatives Minority Leader and began the race as the presumptive favorite. 

Shomari Figures is the son of the very popular and prominent Mobile State Sen. Vivian Figures. His father, Michael Figures, was in this Senate seat prior to Vivian. He was a well-known civil rights leader and State Senate Leader but died early in life. Shomari benefitted from his Mobile roots. He has also had a stellar career in Washington politics, working for the Obama Administration and more recently, Attorney General Merrick Garland. He also brought a boatload of Washington insider campaign money home with him, which helped propel him to an overwhelming and probably insurmountable lead going into the April 16 Democratic runoff. 

Shomari garnered nearly 50% of the vote in his native Mobile County. However, the big story is that he received 40% of the vote in the second most populous county, Montgomery. He carried Montgomery overwhelmingly despite veteran Montgomery Democratic Kingpin Joe Reed endorsing Mobile State Rep. Napoleon Bracy. 

Young Mr. Figures’ smashing victory in Montgomery may very well mark the political death of Joe Reed and his Alabama Democratic Conference control of Montgomery. Poetically, Shomari’s father, Michael Figures, split with Joe Reed’s ADC 40 years ago and formed the New South Coalition. Shomari may have settled this score for his father.

State Rep. Napoleon Bracy finished third with 15% of the vote. Most of his voters came from Mobile. Most of those votes will accrue to Shomari Figures, who will be the prohibitive favorite to win the Democratic runoff on April 16.

See you next week.

Steve Flowers’ weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state Legislature; he may be reached at [email protected].

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