Redistricting Alabama: Two VRA Districts

There are a few scenarios which could give rise to this map. If control of redistricting is split, then I could see this as a compromise map. As you'll soon see, Mike Rogers' life gets easier while the Second District becomes solidly Democratic (albeit with Bobby Bright is serious trouble in the primary, assuming he's still around).

 Even if Democrats have the redistricting trifecta, the fact that only one of the state's seven districts can be counted on to go Democratic and only one another saw Obama get more than 40% of the vote has got to be worrisome. So, a map such as this can also be seen as a Democratic gerrymander of sorts in that it makes two solidly Democratic districts.

I could even see this as a Republican map, especially if Bobby Bright survives. If that happens, they could concede the Second in return for shoring up their most vulnerable member: Mike Rogers.

Finally, this map could result from a decision by the courts or the Justice Department mandating that Alabama have another black-majority district. 2005 Census estimates put Alabama at 26.7% black. That amounts to just under two districts, and considering that adding another majority black district to Alabama is fairly easy as the heavily black areas tend to be clustered or at least fairly close to each other.

State Map


First District (Blue)
Old District: 67.8% white | 28% black
Old Demographics: 82% white | 13% black
New Demographics: 81% white | 13% black

The First exchanges heavily black areas in Mobile for rural, white areas along the Florida border. The net result is a significantly whiter and probably more Republican district, as if Jo Bonner needed it.  

Second District (Green)
Old District: 67% white | 29% black
Old Demographics: 44% white | 53% black
New Demographics: 41% white | 55% black

Previous attempts to move the black areas of Mobile to the Seventh District and move extra black areas from the Seventh to the Second were unsuccessful as it left the First and Second underpopulated with nowhere to gain that wouldn’t negate the whole purpose. But moving this area into the Second does work. The Second also picks up heavily black areas from the Seventh and Third and loses whiter areas to the First and Third. As a result, the district is now majority black and, I would assume, pretty solidly Democratic. Bobby Bright would likely have trouble in the primary, though.

Third District (Purple)
Old District: 65% white | 32% black
Old Demographics: 74% white | 22% black
New Demographics: 73% white | 23% black

Things get easier for Mike Rogers. Not only has the district been pushed northward out of the black belt (or at least the blackest parts of it), becoming almost three-quarters white, but Rogers' Democratic opponent Josh Segall is now in the Second District.

Fourth District (Red)
Old District: 90% white | 5% black
Old Demographics: 90% white | 6% black
New Demographics: 88% white | 6% black

The Fourth remains Alabama's whitest and least diverse districts. I tried to make it a heavily rural district, which you may can see in its loss of Fort Payne and Gadsden. That effort may have been futile as I had to put Florence and parts of Tuscaloosa in the district. I would be shocked if Rob Aderholt had any problems here.

Fifth District (Yellow)
Old District: 78% white | 17% black
Old Demographics: 79% white | 15% black
New Demographics: 76% white | 16% black

With this one, I tried to make it more urban (or at least less rural) as well as concentrate the military interests in one district. The new Fifth picks of Decatur and Fort Payne, among other areas, and sheds some more rural areas.

Sixth District (Teal)
Old District: 89% white | 8% black
Old Demographics: 88% white | 8% black
New Demographics: 85% white | 10% black

With the loss of Tuscaloosa County, the Sixth loses much of its former serpentine shape. With the addition of Autauga County, the district becomes more of a Birmingham to Montgomery district.

Seventh District (Gray)
Old District: 36% white | 62% black
Old Demographics: 37% white | 60% black
New Demographics: 35% white | 61% black

Not a whole lot has changed here. It loses some of Clarke County, giving the district a more compact look, as well as parts of Pickens and Wilcox Counties. In return, it gains some Birmingham-area precincts. The story is still the same: heavily black and solidly Democratic.

AL-Gov: Bonner Won’t Run

Sorry, open seat fans:

U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Mobile, told the Press-Register today that he will not run for governor of Alabama in 2010, ending months of speculation over whether he would join a crowded field of candidates seeking to replace term-limited Gov. Bob Riley.

“After a lot of serious thought and consideration, as well as many heartfelt prayers, Janee and I have concluded that now is simply not the right time to launch a statewide campaign,” Bonner said.

Bonner nabbed a spot on the Appropriations Committee last year, which makes life in the minority a bit more palatable. And a few weeks ago, he earned some upgrades on his other assignments. In any event, this move scratches a name off of our open seat watch, but both the GOP and Dem gubernatorial fields are still up in the air.


The “Ben Lodmell for Congress” local campaign office is moving closer to our grand opening with a meeting today of local supporters with his staff members from Mobile to make plans for a painting and furnishing party . Anyone reading this diary who has contacts in the First District, please feel free to join us and/or to contact others who might be interested.

This is going to be a race, folks. Make no mistake.  There are already a lot of “little people” on board in this campaign. If Jo Bonner  expects a cakewalk he may just be in for a surprise.


“Big Ben” Lodmell is a big man in many ways.  At 6’6″ and about 280 pounds, he is an imposing figure.  Boyishly good looking, with a quick sincere smile, he makes friends easily.  His impressive intellect is not on public display in a prideful way, but hearing him slip easily into Spanish, Portuguese and French when the occasion requires it will immediately let one know that this is a well educated and intelligent man.

With an extensive background in international finance, he understands how fiscal policies affect the economies of great nations as well as ordinary families.  His experience as an administrator of human service not-for-profit agencies have touched his heart and created a burning desire to help those who need it the most. Ben has the vision that lets him see that helping the poor, the unemployed, sickly, elderly, and, most of all, the children in our society is not expensive gravy to be dolloped on when there is extra money available, but rather the beef, the essential function of government that makes all other functions possible.    If you live in the First District, plan now to vote and campaign for “Big Ben” Lodmell. If you do not, but you want to participate in improving Alabama and America in a very real way, write your check to “Lodmell for Congress” and mail it to 106 E. Church St. Atmore, AL 36502.  Thank you.

Remember: “yard signs are pretty, but dollar signs win elections”.  

AL-01-Ben Lodmell’s Year End Message

What follows is Congressional candidate Benjamin Lodmell’s response to incumbent Congressman Jo Bonner(AL-01-R). We might just have a race on our hands but Lodmell needs your support.


Want to hear a bad joke? Bush’s man in Mobile, Jo Bonner, claims he has represented Alabama’s 1st Congressional District for going on six years. Well, if that’s a joke, the joke’s on us. Bonner hasn’t represented anything but the special interests that fill and re-fill his campaign war chest whenever voting season rolls around. Like now. But that’s only part of the joke. The joke really gets going when you read Jo’s year-end tout sheet of the Bush-Bonner gang’s accomplishments during the first session of the 110th Congress.

Believe it or not, Jo Bonner has the unmitigated gall to begin his year-end sermon from Mount Washington by saying, “Congress ended the year successfully.” To write that kind of drivel, Jo must be eating too many side orders of grits, and they’ve gone to his head! If this past year was so successful, Jo, why does the latest poll by George Washington University show that 61% of the likely voters in the next election disapprove of the job performance of the Republicans in Congress? I guess they haven’t read your year-end review.

Speaking of which, Jo, why don’t you try explaining how you and your ideologically-driven brethren have the audacity to take credit for getting “$70 billion in funding without strings for Iraq and Afghanistan” and “full funding of S-CHIP through the coming year”? You’ve got to be kidding; the Congress had no choice. The President vetoed so many prior bills on these two issues alone, he had to refill his pen with ink.

What you didn’t say about the “no strings” funding for our troops is that the American people still have no exit strategy for a war where are troops keep dying and we have no hope of winning. As for the S-CHIP legislation, what you, after repeated Presidential vetoes, accomplished, despite all the self-congratulations, was to deny healthcare coverage to 10 million uninsured children. Good going Jo. As for the energy bill you took credit for passing, nowhere in your commentary do you mention that you once again came to the aid of your oil and gas industry buddies by cutting out of the bill a roll back of $13.5 billion in tax breaks that could have been used to extend tax credits for wind, solar, and biomass power, as well as hybrid cars.

But Jo is right about one thing in his year-end self-promoting report. As he says, “American families are feeling the pinch of higher costs of living – record high gas prices, heating costs, health care costs, and education expenses.” He’s right about that. And if anyone believes he is really going to try to help working families cope with the tough economic times that are coming, the joke will be on them again.

AL-01: Lodmell on Special Interest money; his pledge

I just read the list of “Target Seats” from the DCCC and I’m not happy.  Has the entire South, except for Florida, slipped right off the map?  Have they learned nothing from 2006, when we picked up far more seats than expected? If we ignore the South by saying “we can’t win down there”, it will become a self fulfilling prophecy. I believe that some of these honest and hardworking young Dems have a chance, but only if we pay attention and give them some support (especially financial support). Take a moment to read what Ben Lodmell has to say in this press release/pledge to supporters.

MOBILE, December 26, 2007 – “This Democrat will not solicit any special interest money in the coming election campaign against the incumbent Republican Congressman Jo Bonner.”

With these words, Ben Lodmell, Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, today vowed not to let big business be a corrupting influence in the 1st Congressional District of Alabama. In a letter to supporters, Lodmell wrote, “The people can trust that my allegiance is to them and only them. They have my word on it.”


Lodmell said he is making this pledge because big business has “hijacked” congress. “It’s as plain as the cash in Congressman Jo Bonner’s campaign coffers. You can see it in his voting records,” Lodmell said.

Lodmell described “Bush’s man in Mobile” as “a millionaire many times over who knows the value of a buck and where to get it. Let’s just take a look as his money guzzling Congressional campaign record.” Since his first campaign in 2002, Bonner has collected over $4 million in political contributions, while personally contributing less than 1%. “More than half of the cash raised,” Lodmell said, “came from political action committees, with who knows how much more coming from other special interest groups whose main purpose is making sure they bought the right kind of political action in Congress.

“Worse yet,” Lodmell said, “most of these contribution have gone into funding extremely expensive political advertising and self-promotion campaigns that manipulate the truth beyond recognition.

“Heck, Jo has already collected $365,719 this election cycle and he hasn’t even begun campaigning – or maybe he has, at least as far as collecting special interest money is concerned.”

“And who are the usual suspects that pour dough into Jo’s campaign pockets election cycle after election cycle? ” Lodmell asked. “There’s the oil and gas industry, agriculture, the utilities, insurance, healthcare and tobacco interests, bankers, the timber and transportation industry, and the old reliable defense contractors, just to name a few.

“And what do these purveyors of bad government get for putting Bonner in office and keeping him there? He votes for subsidies and tax incentives that gin up their profitability at public expense. And he votes against limiting business activities that might curtail that profitability, also at the public’s expense.”

Lodmell ended with this admonition to his supporters: “Bonner isn’t the only one playing the money game in Washington. It’s systemic. And as a result, what we have in Washington is government of business, by business and for business. The people no longer matter. Just money.”

Ben Lodmell declared his candidacy for the Democratic Party’s nomination for Congress from the 1st District in August. He describes himself as the people’s representative. “I’m a fiscally responsible pragmatist and an independent-thinker who can bridge the ideological extremes that often get in the way of getting the people’s business done in Congress.”  


AL-01 Statement by Lodmell on Energy Bill Defeat

Please read this statement and consider whether this powerful new voice in Southern Democratic politics deserves your $upport.

Bush-Bonner gang torpedoes energy bill;

‘example of corrupt government at work’

Contact: Ben Lodmell, Candidate for Congress

              PO Box 40926 – Mobile, AL 36640

              Telephone: 251-404-2663

MOBILE, December 10, 2007 – When the Bush-Bonner gang torpedoed the Energy Bill last week it was “a near-perfect example of corrupt government at work,” according to a statement issued today by Ben Lodmell, Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from Alabama’s first congressional district.

“Had it passed, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 would have reduced oil imports, raised automobile fuel-efficiency standards for the first time in 32 years and required electric utilities to increase use of renewable energy, all of which are beneficial to the country,” Lodmell said. “But Bush’s man in Mobile, Rep. Jo Bonner, joined with every other Republican in Alabama’s congressional delegation to make sure the historic bill died so their friends in the oil and gas industry could remain fat and happy.”

What prompted Senate Republicans to cut off debate on the bill, which had been passed by a 231-to-181 margin in the House a day earlier, was a $21 billion tax package. Included was the rollback of $13.5 billion in tax breaks enjoyed by some of the country’s largest oil and gas companies. Among other things, the taxes would have been used to extend tax credits for wind, solar, and biomass power, as well as hybrid cars.

Adding to the Republican push to kill the Energy Bill was an earlier threat of another presidential veto if the bill passed with the contentious tax package and renewable energy requirement included.

“If enacted,” Lodmell said, “the bill would have required vehicles to average 35 miles per gallon, a 40% increase over current standards. The bill would have saved 1.1 million barrels of oil a day. It would have increased yearly ethanol production by seven-fold. And it would have required electric utilities to up their use of renewable energy sources by 15%. According to some estimates, that would have cut energy bills by as much as $18.1 billion by 2020 and up to $32 billion by 2030.”

“Clearly, the big winners here,” Lodmell said, “are no surprise. They’re the special interest groups the Bush-Bonner gang loves to make more and more profitable – the oil and gas companies and their cousins in the public utility industry, none of which is bashful about financially supporting the re-election campaigns of the politicians who support them.

“The big losers, however, are the American people, whose government has been taken from them and corrupted by those self-same special interests whose only interests are their own.”

Lodmell said it shouldn’t surprise anyone if Senate and House negotiators came up with a stripped-down compromise bill that in the last analysis satisfies no one but the President and his Congressional lackeys and their special interest benefactors.

“The only bright light in an otherwise dismal display of this corrupted Republican government at work,” Lodmell said, “is that Americans will have a chance at the ballot box next year to take our government back.”

Lodmell declared his candidacy for the Democratic Party’s nomination for Congress from the first district in August. He describes himself as the people’s representative. “I’m a fiscally responsible pragmatist and an independent-thinker who can bridge the ideological extremes that often get in the way of getting the people’s business done in Congress.”


AL First District Incumbent Josiah Bonner

I am so honored.  I got a letter from Congressman Josiah Bonner, the Alabama First District’s version of Bush-puppet. In it he explained to me that voting for or against S-CHIP isn’t really a vote for or against children.  No, it is, according to the patented convoluted Republican line “a part of an ongoing conversation on the expansion of government-controlled health care and the value of the free market”.

Boy! I sure feel better about it now.  It isn’t about children. It’s about a “conversation”. And, of course, Alabama’s and America’s children and families will have time to enjoy this “conversation” while sitting in hospital emergency rooms across the country, waiting for non-emergency care that would have been covered by the S-CHIP program the Republicans killed.

But, seriously folks, how long will American voters let them get away with just plain bald faced lying about their motives? Government-controlled health care? Didn’t I hear somewhere that S-CHIP benefits are provided through private insurance companies and that private insurers back this bill consistently?  Didn’t someone mention that it is funded by an increase on the most deadly legal product available to our citizens- tobacco – and that a majority of smokers back this bill?

Bonner, in his letter, goes on to say “S-CHIP should continue as it was designed ten years ago-for children of low-income families, not adults, illegal immigrants, or wealthier families.” Well, okay.  That is probably why the bill was written by Democrats and some good, honest Republican mavericks to support children of low-income families, not adults, illegal immigrants or wealthier families. D’ya think? 

Hey, Jo.  I haven’t been following your career from the beginning, but what I hear is pretty interesting.  I hear you were not a rich man when you ran for Congress but, with the help of some really good, honest folks, like Karl Rove, Tom DeLay and the tobacco companies, you got elected.  I also hear that you are now worth several million dollars.  And I know that, as a member of Congress, you and your family have really good health care coverage. Why, with all this going for you, are you so reluctant to help the people who elected you to your gravy train. 

Oh, and Josiah.  One more quote from your letter.  “Additionally, I have co-sponsored two bills?which would reauthorize and extend S-CHIP for another ten years while accomplishing many of the goals the majority’s bill failed to reach”. Please, Sir.  Doesn’t your rapidly growing nose get in the way of your typing? Your bills wouldn’t have even covered the children currently protected and certainly wouldn’t expand coverage to the other children who are without health care.  No Sir.  Your problem is you don’t seem to regognize that we are talking about flesh and blood children here, not just pawns in the cruel Republican chess game.  You are still locked into Karl Rove’s dream of a one party nation.  It is a dream you are helping to advance, Sir, but it may not be the party you had in mind.  Everybody loves children, at least every real American I know. Lies and deceit can only carry Bush and his clones so far and the end of the road is quite visible from where you are standing.

Benjamin Lodmell will be happy to take over your Congressional seat and HE will serve the people, not the GOP and the tobacco companies.