Figures and Dobson win nominations for Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District

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Terri Baskin Photography

In this image provided by the Figures for Congress campaign, Shomari Figures poses for a photo. Voters in a new Alabama congressional district at the center of an ongoing legal and political dispute will return to the polls Tuesday, April 16, 2024, to select the nominees in a U.S. House contest. Figures and Anthony Daniels, the state House Minority Leader, will compete for the Democratic nomination in Alabama's 2nd Congressional District after neither candidate received the vote majority needed in the March 5 primary to avoid Tuesday's runoff. (Terri Baskin/Figures for Congress via AP, File)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Alabama voters decided primary runoffs on Tuesday for the state's newly redrawn 2nd Congressional District, setting up a potentially historic November race that could play a part in the battle for control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Shomari Figures, a former top aide to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, defeated state House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels to win the Democratic nomination. Attorney and political newcomer Caroleene Dobson defeated former state Sen. Dick Brewbaker to win the Republican nomination. Dobson and Figures will face off in November in the closely watched general election.

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Democrats are aiming to flip the seat after the district was redrawn by a federal court to boost the voting power of Black residents. If Figures is elected, it will be the first time in history that Alabama, which is about 27% Black, has two Black members in its congressional delegation.

“I’m enormously grateful for the confidence and the trust and the faith that the voters of this newly drawn district have placed in me to represent the Democratic Party in November," Figures said as he addressed supporters Tuesday night. “That is something that I do not take lightly.”

Figures, an attorney, also served as an aide to former President Barrack Obama, serving as domestic director of the Presidential Personnel Office. He is the son of two prominent Alabama legislators: longtime state Sen. Vivian Davis Figures and the late Senate President Pro Tem Michael Figures. He moved home to Mobile from Washington D.C. to run for the congressional seat.

The non-partisan Cook Political Report rated the district as “likely Democrat,” meaning that it favors the Democratic candidate in November but isn’t considered a sure thing. Republicans believe they will be competitive in November and have a chance to keep the seat under GOP control.

Dobson, a real estate attorney and member of the Alabama Forestry Commission, harnessed support in rural areas to defeat Brewbaker, who had led in the March 5 primary. Dobson was raised in Monroe County and lived and practiced law in Texas before returning to Alabama and joining the Maynard Nexsen law firm in 2019.

“Thank you to each and every Republican voter in the Second District of Alabama. I am humbled by your outpouring of support and eagerness to join us in fighting for Alabama families," Dobson said in a written statement. “Because you believed in me and in my vision for our district, we are one step closer to saving our country.”

The new district came after a lengthy court battle in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Black Alabamians who had challenged the state's existing congressional districts.

Federal judges approved new district lines in October after ruling that Alabama’s previous map — which had only one majority-Black district out of seven — was racially gerrymandered to limit the influence of the state’s Black voters. The three-judge panel said Alabama should have a second district where Black voters make up a substantial portion of the voting age population and have a reasonable opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice.

“Following tonight’s runoff election, Alabama voters now stand on the cusp of making history in November, when Black Alabamians could — for the first time — elect two members of Congress who truly reflect their political desires," former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, said.

The new district spans the width of the state and includes Montgomery, parts of Mobile and rural counties in the state’s Black Belt.

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