Over the course of history, the second congressional district has been referred to and considered a Montgomery congressional district because the Capital City has comprised the bulk of the population. In recent years a good many Montgomerians have migrated to the suburban counties of Autauga and Elmore. Therefore, the district has been refigured to reflect this trend. Today there are more Republican votes cast in this congressional district in these two counties than from Montgomery.
Nevertheless the bulk of the population is in what is now referred to as the River Region. This Montgomery region is coupled with Southeast Alabama and the Wiregrass, which makes it a very conservative Congressional district. It is a Republican seat and has been since Bill Dickinson won it in the southern Republican Goldwater landslide of 1964.
Bill Dickinson beat longtime sitting Congressman George Grant in 1964, and became the first Republican to be elected since Reconstruction. Congressman Dickinson stayed in the seat for 28 years. He rose to be the ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee. Through his influence, not only were the vital military bases – Maxwell/Gunter in Montgomery and Ft. Rucker in the Wiregrass – enhanced, he was also instrumental in bringing Lockheed and Sikorsky plants to the district. Over the past 100 years, Dickinson has had the most profound effect for the district.
Businessman Terry Everett won the seat in 1992 upon Dickinson’s retirement. He was the first and only Wiregrass person to hold that seat. Everett served with distinction for 16 years, through 2008. He was a stalwart Republican and very conservative.
The current Congressional person is Martha Roby, a Republican from Montgomery. After 10 years in Congress, she said she had enough and chose to not run for reelection this year which leaves the open seat up for grabs. It is a Republican seat, therefore, the winner of the March 3rd primary and probable March 31 GOP runoff, will go to Washington for at least two years.
The probable winner of that congressional seat will be Dothan businessman, Jeff Coleman. He is 53 and has not only been successful running his family’s worldwide moving business, he has been active civically in the Wiregrass. He is at the right time in life to serve in Washington. His profile is the prototypical scenario for being elected to a Republican Congressional or Senate seat. Congressional campaign fundraising limits coupled with the fact that Washington PACs do not get involved in primaries but wait until the General Election to place their bets, favors a wealthy candidate.
Coleman has his own money and dedicated $2 million to the race. He has followed through on his promise to spend that amount. Amazingly, he has raised another $1 million. When all is said and done, he will probably have spent close to $3 million to win this seat in Congress. Just outspending his challengers by a 10 to 1 amount would be sufficient to win. However, he has not only spent more than all the others combined, he has outworked them. He is affable and confident in an unassuming way. People seem to like him. He will win.
If Coleman had not entered the race, former Attorney General Troy King would have been favored to win. Having run several times and being a native of the Wiregrass, King had some inherent name identification. He has been hampered in this race by lack of fundraising. However, if there is a runoff, King will more than likely be Coleman’s opponent in the March 31 GOP runoff.
Former Enterprise State Representative Barry Moore ran a gallant race against Martha Roby a couple of years ago and got a good vote, most of which came out of Coffee County. He may not do as well in the Wiregrass this time.
There is a dashing young candidate named Jessica Taylor, who is running a good campaign focused on getting free publicity on Fox News as a youthful female candidate.
Whichever candidate wins the seat, there is no question as to which congressional committees they should aspire – Agriculture and Armed Services because this district is highly dependent on military spending and farming.
Sadly, the winner will probably not have a long tenure in Congress. Alabama is probably going to lose a Congressional seat after this year’s census count. The logical seat to be altered and probably merged with the current third and first district is the second district.
Folks, the primary election is less than two weeks away.
See you next week.
— Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the Alabama legislature.