Democrat Wins Deep Red Seat in Alabama After Campaigning on Abortion Rights

Elections Alabama Abortion Ban
Democrat Wins Deep Red Seat in Alabama After Campaigning on Abortion Rights

Democratic candidate Marilyn Lands waltzed to a special election victory last night in the historically red 10th district of Alabama’s House of Representatives, and she made fighting for In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and abortion rights a central plank of her campaign.

When the Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, many experts warned that this was opening a house of horrors far beyond just allowing states to ban abortion procedures. One of those second-order effects was Alabama’s Supreme Court taking this misogynistic authoritarianism a step further and functionally banning IVF by ruling that the frozen embryos for that procedure are people.

Lands’s Republican opponent, Teddy Powell, understood what a political liability this subject was for him, as The Washington Post reported earlier this week when he was walking through a suburban neighborhood campaigning that “not once did he bring up abortion and in vitro fertilization.” Many Republicans spoke out against the Alabama Court’s IVF ruling after the immense backlash to it, and Alabama’s Republican governor signed some legislation into law to protect IVF providers, further highlighting how the GOP is extremely aware that their long-term goal to restrict women’s freedom is now a political albatross hanging around their neck.

This is just one district, and while it has historically been deep red, it has undergone some recent redistricting which could have tilted it bluer (I’ll admit I’m not an expert on the political idiosyncrasies of the Huntsville, Alabama area). Even with the redistricting factored in, it’s clear that something substantively changed here. As recently as 2014, the Democrats didn’t even bother to run a candidate in this district, and in the 2018 election the Republican won by 13%, and in 2022 the GOP won this seat by 6.6%.

Marilyn Lands beat Teddy Powell by a whopping 24.8% last night.

Now, it’s a special election, so turnout is low (the total votes cast in this election are about 600 votes less than Lands received in 2022 when she lost), but this continues to further the dynamic that Democrats now own special elections. It used to be a political maxim that Republicans thrived in low turnout environments, but the avalanche of special election victories by Democrats since Donald Trump won in 2016 has proven this notion to be outdated. As far as the data is concerned, voting in special elections seems to be one of Democrats’ favorite things to do. If the DNC rigged it so we had 300 different elections every year, they’d rule forever.

The point here is pretty clear even if we are drilling down on a low vote local race: Democrats are electorally incentivized to campaign on protecting abortion rights and fighting back against the Dobbs ruling, while Republicans want to talk about literally anything else. This race is a microcosm for the larger dynamic unfolding in America ever since this radical Supreme Court anointed itself an unaccountable super-legislature and launched its assault on American women. Marilyn Lands trouncing her opponent in a red district while explicitly promising to use her power to fight back against abortion restrictions is a model for how Democrats across the country should campaign this year, the question now is whether the party will have to courage to follow her lead.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin