Alabama Democrat flips GOP seat after campaigning against threats to IVF

Alabama Democrat flips GOP seat after campaigning against threats to IVF

Democrat Marilyn Lands defeated Republican Teddy Powell on Tuesday in a 62-37 landslide, easily prevailing in a nationally watched special election for a GOP-held seat in the Alabama House of Representatives.

Lands outperformed the 10th District’s normal lean by wide margins: Donald Trump carried the district by a 49-48 spread in 2020, according to Dave’s Redistricting App, while voters favored Republican David Cole over Lands 52-45 two years later.

While Republicans will still retain their supermajority in the chamber, both parties were paying close attention to see whether a recent ruling from the Alabama Supreme Court that threatened access to in vitro fertilization could be a winning issue in competitive areas like this suburban Huntsville constituency.

Lands focused intently on reproductive rights in her campaign to replace Cole, who resigned last summer after getting convicted on voter fraud charges. “It’s shameful that today women have fewer freedoms than I did two decades ago,” she said in one spot excoriating the state’s near-total abortion ban. Lands, a mental health counselor, also argued the legislature didn’t do enough to protect IVF when it passed a law earlier this month that shields clinics from liability.

Powell, a member of the City Council in Madison, adopted a very different strategy. He instead focused on issues like infrastructure and downplayed the importance of reproductive rights. “It’s certainly an issue that needs to be dealt with,” he told Politico, “but not our top issue. I don’t think that this is the issue that wins or loses the race.”

That calculus turned out to be wrong, and Lands just gave Democrats good reason to believe that Powell will be only the first of many Republicans to pay the price at the ballot box this year.

Editor’s note: This piece has been updated to include Tuesday’s final election results and comparisons to recent elections.

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