Democrats Anthony Daniels and Shomari Figures stress experience ahead of next week’s congressional runoff

The two Democrats running for Alabama’s newly redrawn congressional district stressed their experience — one at the federal level and one at the Alabama Legislature — in a debate that aired Tuesday night.

Shomari Figures, who served as deputy chief of staff and counselor to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, and state House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels will meet in a Tuesday runoff to decide the Democratic nomination for Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District.

Democrats are hoping to flip the Deep South seat, which has been held by Republicans after it was redrawn by a federal court to give Black voters greater opportunity to elect a representative of their choice. A panel of federal judges ruled the state’s previous congressional map likely violated the Voting Rights Act. The judges said Alabama should have a second district where Black voters comprise a substantial part of the electorate.

The winner of the Democratic runoff will face the Republican nominee in the closely watched November General Election. The Republican nomination is being decided in a runoff between former state senator Dick Brewbaker and attorney Caroleene Dobson. Republicans are aiming to keep the seat under GOP control.

Daniels, a former teacher and business owner, was elected to the Alabama Legislature in 2014 and was elected minority leader in 2017, becoming the first Black man to hold the post.

“I have the experience and the track record for delivering for the people of the state of Alabama,” Daniels said. Daniels said he has been able to get legislation approved — including a new law that exempts overtime pay from state income tax — despite Democrats being a “super minority” in Montgomery.

Before working for Garland, Figures was a congressional staffer for U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and was deputy director of the Presidential Personnel Office for President Barack Obama.

“We need someone who can hit Washington running, who can hit the ground running full speed ahead. Washington is not Montgomery. It is an entirely different animal, and we need to have someone with the experience of navigating Washington D.C.,” Figures said.

Figures is the son of two prominent Alabama legislators, long-term state Sen. Vivian Davis Figures and the late Senate President Pro Tem Michael Figures, who died in 1996.

The debate, unlike the one ahead of the GOP runoff, was devoid of heated exchanges. Figures and Daniels expressed similar views on several issues. Both were critical of Alabama’s decision not to expand Medicaid. Both spoke of the need for immigration legislation. Both were critical of Alabama lawmakers’ decision to end the requirement to get a permit to carry a concealed handgun in public.

The new district, viewed as a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Democrats in a state where Republicans dominate state and federal offices, drew a crowded field with 11 Democrats seeking the nomination.

Figures led in the initial round of voting, capturing about 43% of the vote. Daniels finished second at about 22%. A runoff is required because no candidate captured more than 50% of the vote.

The congressional debate was sponsored by WSFA and WALA.


Republished with permission from The Associated Press.

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