When Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley (R) signed a new Congressional map into law last week, he significantly strengthened the chances the Yellowhammer State will remain a delegation with six Republicans and one Democrat.
The GOP seats got safer, and the Republican-dominated Alabama Legislature added Democrats to freshman Rep. Terri Sewell's 7th district, making it easier for her to win a second term. Freshman Rep. Martha Roby (R) had the narrowest victory margin in 2010, but the new map adds Republican areas to her district.
Sewell told Roll Call she was still reviewing the map, but she said as far as the statewide landscape goes, "It would be great if we could put more Democratic seats in play."
Alabama Senate Minority Leader Roger Bedford (D), who has been in the chamber since 1982, told Roll Call the map seems "ripe" for a lawsuit. And the Alabama Democratic Party said one was likely. Regardless of whether one is filed, the 1965 Voting Rights Act dictates that Alabama's new districts must be pre-cleared by the Department of Justice or by a federal court before the law can be enacted.
Incumbent: Jo Bonner (R)
5th term (83 percent)
Rating: Safe Republican
The Mobile-based 1st district, which includes all of Alabama's coast, barely changes under the new Congressional lines, losing just a bit of territory in Clarke County to the 7th. Although it is by no means the most Republican district in the state, Bonner looks likely to easily win re-election in this solidly GOP area. A staunch conservative, Bonner has snagged victories in the past three cycles with more than 68 percent of the vote.
Incumbent: Martha Roby (R)
1st term (51 percent)
Rating: Safe Republican
In a 2010 television ad in his losing battle to hold on to his southern Alabama seat, former Rep. Bobby Bright (D) sold himself as "independent and conservative." It was a good description for the 2nd district, even if voters didn't believe it was a good description of Bright. After redistricting, the 2nd, anchored in the suburbs of Montgomery and covering the southeastern portion of the state, is more of the latter. That's great news for Roby, who just barely squeaked out a win last cycle. She unseated Bright by just 4,857 votes out of almost 220,000 votes cast in a wave year for the GOP. (A spokeswoman said Roby was "very happy" with the final map.)
The new map pushes heavily Democratic western Montgomery County and Lowndes County into the 7th. Lowndes backed Bright over Roby last year, 74 percent to 26 percent. A Democratic operative in Washington said the right Alabama Democrat might be able to win back the seat. But until that challenger emerges, the district is safe for Roby. The Congresswoman is an able fundraiser, pulling in $214,000 in the first quarter.