By MARY SELL and ALEXANDER WILLIS, Alabama Daily News
It’s going to be a wild primary election season in southern Alabama, from Montgomery to the southern corners of the state.
At least 21 candidates — eight Republicans and 13 Democrats — had qualified by Friday’s deadline to run for the newly redrawn and open Congressional District 2. They include sitting Alabama House members from around the state and as far north as Huntsville, a current and former state senator, and a former NFL defensive end.
And farther south, in the heavily altered Congressional District 1, two current Republican House members will have to face off in the March 5 primary. The winner will also have a Democrat opponent next November for the right-leaning district.
The AL-2 Republican candidates are:
- Sen. Greg Albritton is an attorney in his third term in the Senate. He’s chairman of the Senate General Fund committee. He currently has his primary residence just outside the district in Atmore, but also has a home in Conecuh County, within the district.
- Dick Brewbaker served two terms in the Alabama Senate until 2018 and recently sold his family’s auto dealership in Montgomery. Early in his career, Brewbaker was an educator. His is a big name in the Montgomery area.
- Caroleene Dobson is a Montgomery resident and attorney practicing real estate law with the Maynard Nexsen law firm in Birmingham. She’s originally from Beatrice in Monroe County and in her campaign announcement talked about her connections to the agriculture and forestry industries.
- Karla DuPriest is a caterer and small business owner from Mobile. She ran for the U.S. Senate in 2022.
- Wallace Gilberry is a Bay Minette native who spent nine seasons in the NFL as a tight end. He was the last candidate to qualify Friday and will bring significant name recognition to the race.
- Hampton S. Harris is a real estate agent from Pike Road in Montgomery County.
- Belinda Thomas, co-director of the ALGOP Outreach Coalition and a member of the Newton City Council in Dale County.
- Information on Stacey T. Shepperson was not immediately available Friday afternoon.
John Wahl, chair of the ALGOP, told Alabama Daily News Friday he was pleased by the slate of candidates.
“They are an outstanding group of individuals who are committed to representing the communities that make up this new district, as well as the conservative values of our state,” he said. “They bring a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences to the table..
“The Alabama Republican Party remains committed to competing in every district, and will work hard to win all seven Congressional seats.”
The AL-2 Democratic candidates, according to the party’s site are:
- James Averhard served in the United States Marine Corps for 30 years until 2017. In 2020, Averhard won the Democratic primary election in the race for Alabama’s First Congressional District, but lost in the general election to now-incumbent Congressman Jerry Carl, a Republican.
- Napoleon Bracy Jr. is a former Prichard City Council member and current Alabama House representative for District 98, which includes Saraland, a seat he’s held since 2010. Bracy Jr. has worked for Austal USA, a defense contractor in his professional career.
- Merika Coleman is a lawyer by trade and a member of the Alabama Senate representing District 19 in Jefferson County. She previously served in the Alabama House.
- Anthony Daniels is a former teacher, current member of the Alabama House representing District 53, and has served as the House minority leader since 2017. Daniels is also the co-founder of Premiere Dental Spa, a dental practice in Huntsville.
- Shomari Figures is the son of Alabama Sen. Vivian Figures of Mobile, and was an aid to President Barack Obama. Figures was also the former deputy chief of staff to Attorney General Merrick Garland, a position he said he stepped down from to explore running for Alabama Second Congressional District.
- Brian Gary is a surgeon at Jackson Hospital in Montgomery, and a graduate of Tuskegee University. The late qualifier is said to have the backing of Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed, who opted out of a run for Congress himself last month.
- Juandalynn Givan is a lawyer in her professional life and a member of the Alabama House representing District 60 in Birmingham, a seat she’s held since 2010.
- Jeremy Gray is a small business owner and member of the Alabama House representing District 83, which includes Opelika. Gray has been the Democratic minority whip in the House since 2019, and founded a fitness company, Elevate Your Grind Inc., in 2015.
- Phyllis Harvey-Hall is a graduate of Alabama State and Troy universities, and the president of several educational organizations, including Educational Services Inc. and Teaching Transformations, LLC. Harvey-Hall won the Democratic primary election in the race for Alabama’s Second Congressional District in 2022, but lost in the general election to now-incumbent Congressman Barry Moore, a Republican.
- Vimal Patel is a graduate of Auburn University, a realtor in Enterprise, and is a resident in Dothan. In 2022, Patel ran for Alabama Second Congressional District, but lost in the Democratic primary election to Phyllis Harvey-Hall.
- Darryl Sinkfield is the assistant executive director for field services with the Alabama Education Association.
- Information was not immediately available Friday on Larry Darnell Simpson and Willie Lenard.
The District 2 seat has drawn a crowded field that includes several members who live outside it, but that’s allowed under federal law. And the fact that several of the candidates live outside the boundaries might lessen it as an attack tactic in campaigns.
While the large number of candidates was expected, what was surprising, at least to Auburn University political science Professor David Hughes, was the amount of candidates who don’t reside anywhere near the district.
“Some of those are a little more credible than others, folks who have roots in the districts, but then you’ve got other candidates who appear to be raw ambition at play,” he told ADN on Friday. “It’s kind of remarkable that you’ve got the Montgomery area – one of the primary reasons why this new district was ordered by the courts – and it looks like there’s not going to be a (Democratic) Montgomery candidate… shocking.”
The newly drawn district includes 12 counties but interest in this race will be much wider. Lawmakers were forced into a special session in July after their first attempt to draw a new congressional district map in 2021 was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court as a likely violation of the Voting Rights Act. Still not satisfied with the GOP-majority’s redo, a panel of federal judges in October selected this current map in which the Black voting population in District 2 is nearly 49%, giving Black voters in the state two competitive districts.
Hughes said that given the demographics of the new Second District, a Democrat was likely to win in 2024, but Republicans were not without any chance of victory. As to which Democrat had the best chance for victory, Hughes said the opportunity to fundraise could not be overstated.
“All eyes are going to be on Anthony Daniels; yea, he represents Huntsville in the Legislature, but he’s also the leader of the caucus, and he’s going to have access to a lot more fundraising opportunities than most of the other candidates who are running because of his activity in leadership,” he said.
“He’s pretty well connected, and if you don’t have the local politician being put up by the (Joe) Reed machine, then it really opens the door for someone like Anthony Daniels to come and represent the district, which is kind of incredible.”
3 in GOP Chief Justice primary
Other key races going into early 2024 include the Alabama Chief Justice seat. Justice Tom Parker can’t run again because of a state law on judicial age limits. Three GOP candidates qualified: current Associate Justice Sarah Stewart; former state senator and attorney Bryan Taylor; and Montgomery attorney Jerry Michael Blevins. One Democrat, Greg Griffin, qualified.
After nearly 30 years, Bell not running for state school board
And though it’s not a statewide race, there was significant news in the Alabama State Board of Education District 3 seat. Longtime board member and Montgomery resident Stephanie Bell did not qualify, but four other Republicans did. Bell has been on the board for nearly 30 years.
Bell said she’d intended to run, but she and her husband may be moving soon. When her current term is up, she’ll still live in Montgomery but outside of District 3,
“The reality is such that I probably will not be living in the district when this current term ends in January 2025,” Bell said. “Knowing that, I just couldn’t run.”
She’s the longest-serving member in the board’s history.
Republicans who qualified are: Ann Eubank, a conservative advocate often seen in the State House during legislative sessions; Charlotte Meadows, a former state representative and charter school president; Kelly Mooney, a former educator and administrator from Shelby County; and Melissa B. Snowden, a former Montgomery Public Schools board member.
District 3 includes all of Bibb, Chilton, Coosa, Elmore and Shelby counties, southern Jefferson County and portions of Montgomery and Talladega counties.
Qualified Democrats and Republicans for 2024
United States House of Representatives
Congressional District 1
- Jerry Carl (R), incumbent
- Tom Holmes (D)
- Barry Moore (R) incumbent
Congressional District 2
- Greg Albritton (R)
- James Averhard (D)
- Napoleon Bracy Jr. (D)
- Dick Brewbaker (R)
- Merika Coleman (D)
- Anthony Daniels (D)
- Caroleene Dobson (R)
- Karla M. DuPriest (R)
- Brian Gary (D)
- Wallace Gilberry (R)
- Juandalynn Givan (D)
- Jeremy Gray (D)
- Hampton S. Harris (R)
- Phyllis Harvey-Hall (D)
- Willie Lenard (D)
- Shomari Figures (D)
- Vimal Patel (D)
- Stacey T. Shepperson (R)
- Larry Darnell Simpson (D)
- Darryl Sinkfield (D)
- Belinda Thomas (R)
Congressional District 3
- Barron Rae Bevels (R)
- Bryan K. Newell (R)
- Mike Rogers (R) incumbent
Congressional District 4
- Robert B. Aderholt (R) incumbent
- Justin Holcomb (R)
Congressional District 5
- Dale Strong (R) incumbent
- Daniel Boman (R)
Congressional District 6
- Elizabeth Anderson (D)
- Ken McFeeters (R)
- Gary Palmer (R) incumbent
- Gerrick Wilkins (R)
Congressional District 7
- Chris Davis (D)
- Christian Horn (R)
- Robin Litaker (R)
- Terri Sewell (D) incumbent
Alabama Supreme Court
- Jerry Michael Blevins (R)
- Greg Griffin (D)
- Sarah Stewart (R)
- Bryan Taylor (R)
Chris McCool (R)
Tommy Bryan (R) incumbent
Will Sellers (R) incumbent
Jay Mitchell (R) incumbent
Alabama Court of Civil Appeals
- Christy Edwards (R) incumbent
- Chad Hanson (R) incumbent
- Stephen Davis Parker (R)
- Terry A. Moore (R) incumbent
Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
- Richard Minor (R) incumbent
- Rich Anderson (R)
- Thomas Govan (R)
- Bill Cole (R) incumbent
Alabama State School Board
- Jackie Zeigler (R) incumbent
- Charlotte Meadows (R)
- Kelly Mooney (R)
- Melissa B. Snowden (R)
- Tonya Smith Chestnut (D) incumbent
- David W. Perry
- Doug Bachuss (R)
- Allen Long (R)
- Oscar S. Mann (R)
Alabama Public Service Commission President
- Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh (R), incumbent
- Robert L. McCollum (R)