POLITICS & ELECTIONS

Democrat who ran on reproductive rights, flips seat in Alabama House

Mar 27, 2024, 11:49 AM

FILE _ "I Voted" stickers are ready to be distributed to each person who filled out a ballot, Tuesd...

FILE _ "I Voted" stickers are ready to be distributed to each person who filled out a ballot, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, in Brandon, Miss. The New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was scheduled to hear arguments Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, over whether Mississippi can continue to permanently strip voting rights from people convicted of certain felonies. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

ALABAMA (AP) — Marilyn Lands, a Democrat who made reproductive rights a centerpiece of her campaign in deeply conservative Alabama, has won a special election to the Alabama Legislature.

Lands’ victory in the suburban district in the Deep South state was celebrated by Democrats who have attempted to portray the state GOP as too extreme on abortion and reproductive rights. Alabama has a near-total ban on abortion, and in vitro fertilization services were paused last month because of a court ruling equating frozen embryos to children.

Lands defeated Republican Teddy Powell to win the open legislative seat, according to unofficial returns Tuesday. Powell, a member of the Madison City Council, issued a statement conceding the race and congratulating Lands on her victory.

“Today, Alabama women and families sent a clear message that will be heard in Montgomery and across the nation. Our legislature must repeal Alabama’s no-exceptions abortion ban, fully restore access to IVF, and protect the right to contraception,” Lands said.

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The district represents parts of the cities of Madison and Huntsville, which is home to the Army’s Redstone Arsenal and NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

The win was a rare victory for Democrats in the Deep South state where Republicans hold all statewide offices and a lopsided majority in the Alabama Legislature.

Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee President Heather Williams called the victory a “political earthquake in Alabama.”

“This special election is a harbinger of things to come. Republicans across the country have been put on notice that there are consequences to attacks on IVF — from the bluest blue state to the reddest red, voters are choosing to fight for their fundamental freedoms by electing Democrats across the country,” Williams said.

Alabama House and Senate approve bills aimed at protecting in vitro fertilization after personhood ruling

Lands, a licensed counselor, unsuccessfully ran for the seat in 2022 but lost by seven points to Republican David Cole. The legislative seat became open again after Cole stepped down and pleaded guilty to a charge that he rented a closet-size space to fraudulently run for office in a district where he did not live.

Lands will finish the term and will be up for election in 2026, when the governor’s office and other races will be on the ballot.

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Democrat who ran on reproductive rights, flips seat in Alabama House