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With new, court-ordered districts, an Alabama U.S. House election moves ahead

People wait outside the federal courthouse in Birmingham, Ala., in 2023 for a hearing to consider new congressional districts. Federal judges had ruled that the state's 2022 district map diluted Black voters' power.
Kim Chandler
/
AP
People wait outside the federal courthouse in Birmingham, Ala., in 2023 for a hearing to consider new congressional districts. Federal judges had ruled that the state's 2022 district map diluted Black voters' power.

Updated March 6, 2024 at 12:31 AM ET

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — A crowded field of candidates for Alabama's newly drawn 2nd Congressional District has narrowed after Tuesday night's primary election.

The district was reshaped to give Black voters more political power, and followed a lengthy legal battle that reached the U.S. Supreme Court.

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The Democratic and Republican primaries saw nearly 20 candidates total, all vying for a seat that could tip the balance of power in the U.S. House this fall.

Both contests will go to runoffs next month, according to The Associated Press: former Justice Department official Shomari Figures and state Rep. Anthony Daniels on the Democratic side; and Dick Brewbaker, a former state senator, and attorney Caroleene Dobson on the Republican side.

The district stretches from urban areas in Montgomery and Mobile to rural communities across the Wiregrass region where the peanut crop among others dominate.

After the legal fight, the state of Alabama was required to use the new district map, which gives Black voters a better chance at electing a candidate of their choice. The 2nd District now has a Black voting-age population of nearly 50%, and gives Democrats a better chance of picking up another seat in Alabama.

Over the weekend, in Selma, Ala., at the annual event marking Bloody Sunday 1965, when state troopers beat Black protesters marching for the right to vote, organizers held events to attract young African American voters. This included a hip-hop summit and candidate forum.

The event drew Jaelyn Graves, a 23-year-old college student, who said a professor motivated her to switch her voter registration to Alabama from her home state of California.

"Understanding the place that I have in the world," Graves said, "especially as a Tuskegee University student, understanding that this is my responsibility as a Black person."

On Sunday, one of the Democratic candidates, state Rep. Jeremy Gray and his colleagues worked to communicate the importance of getting out to the polls.

Gray warned, "So many people talking about, 'This is a Black seat, this is an opportunity seat.' And if we don't actually go out and vote, shame on us, right?"

Copyright 2024 Troy Public Radio. To see more, visit Troy Public Radio.

Kyle Gassiott