By CAROLINE BECK, Alabama Daily News
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Brit Blalock, a community organizer and Orange Beach native, has announced that she will challenge State Rep. Neil Rafferty, D-Birmingham, for the Democratic nomination for House District 54. But the leader of House Democrats says they’ll firmly back the incumbent.
Blalock told Alabama Daily News that she believes there needs to be more representation for women in the state legislature and would like to be a bold voice for progressive politics in the state house as well.
“We have 15% of representation for women in Alabama and that’s an atrocious number,” Blalock said. “Its one of the lowest percentages for state governments across the entire country and so I’ve been helping a lot of other women run beside myself so I see it as just another extension of trying to better that percentage, closer to parity so we can have better representation for women across the board.”
“I want to be the kind of legislator who you see in the legislative chamber one moment and then the next moment out in the street with a megaphone. I want to bring that activist background to the office and I just don’t see a lot of that right now in Montgomery,” Blalock said.
I am so proud to announce my campaign for the Alabama House of Representatives in District 54! It’s high time that our state government started working for the many, not the few. I will be a relentless advocate for progressive values and hardworking Alabamians. #BritWontQuit pic.twitter.com/oZS2JUh0Aw
— Brit Blalock for AL House District 54 (@BritWontQuit_AL) June 16, 2021
Rafferty is a former Marine who was elected to office in 2018. He told Alabama Daily News he is proud of his own progressive record and will seek reelection.
“I am proud to represent District 54 in the Alabama House of Representatives,” Rafferty said. “Winning by nearly 90% of votes in the last election underscored the fact that voters believed in my plan for creating economic opportunities that pay a living wage, providing safe and secure schools for our kids and teachers, ensuring accountability of law enforcement, and leading the way on expanding access to mental and medical health care for all Alabamians.
“I am honored to work for the diverse communities of District 54 and am committed to continuing what we have started together for our district and state.”
Rafferty is serving his first term in the State House and is the only openly gay member in the Legislature. He serves on House health, transportation and economic development committees.
According to her website, Blalock identifies as non-binary and has organized for several LGBTQ causes going back to college. She is currently a member of the Alabama Democratic Party Executive Committee, the first non-binary person to serve on that panel.
House District 54 is a reliably Democratic district and takes up parts of downtown and the eastside of Birmingham. Rafferty won the Democratic primary runoff in 2018 with 67% of the vote.
Rep. Anthony Daniels, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said he and House Democrats would be strongly backing Rafferty for reelection.
“Rep. Rafferty has been a wonderful and strong member of our caucus,” Daniels said. “He is very deeply committed to his work on criminal justice, social justice, education, equal rights for all people, civil rights and just his ability in representing all the democratic principles is second to none.
“It is without a doubt that he is a member that we want to be in Montgomery and we are going to do everything we can to make certain that he comes back to Montgomery.”
The primary election is May 24, 2022.