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Alabama House District 16, 55 primaries headed to October runoffs

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Alabama House District 16, 55 primaries headed to October runoffs

Sep 27, 2023 | 8:01 am ET
By Alander Rocha
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Alabama House District 16, 55 primaries headed to October runoffs
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A roll of "I voted" circular stickers. (Getty)

Two Alabama House primaries will go to Oct. 24 runoffs after candidates in a Republican primary in House District 16 and a Democratic primary in House District 55 failed to get a majority of the votes.

In the GOP contest in House District 16 in Fayette, Tuscaloosa and Jefferson counties, Fayette County Commissioner Brad Cox had 1,216 votes (32.96%) in unofficial returns. Attorney Bryan Brinyark had 1,201 votes (32.56%).

The finishers were less certain in the Democratic contest in House District 55 in Birmingham and Fairfield. Travis Hendrix, a police sergeant, had 670 votes (27.91%) in the unofficial returns and advanced to the runoff. But just 30 votes separated Sylvia Swayne, a quality assurance manager (515 votes, 21.45%) and Fairfield City Councilwoman Phyllis E. Oden-Jones (485 votes, 20.2%) for the second place slot.

The top two candidates with the most votes in each district will face each other in a runoff on Oct. 24.

House District 16

Five Republicans competed for the party nomination in House District 16, a district that includes Fayette County in north central Alabama, as well as northern Tuscaloosa County and western Jefferson County.

Cox, who came in first place with 15 more votes than the runner-up, said that he’s humbled from the support that he’s got. He received about 48% of the vote in Fayette County.

Alabama House District 16, 55 primaries headed to October runoffs
Brad Cox, candidate for House District 16. (Courtesy of Brad Cox)

“I think I have a proven track record here in Fayette of service in the community, and I think that means something we’ve got to work harder in Tuscaloosa and Jefferson counties,” he said.

Cox said that he feels his campaign resonated with people, and he said he’ll work harder to get the message in the Tuscaloosa and Jefferson counties portion of the district.

“My campaign pillars have been really simple: I’m a Christian, I’m a conservative and I’m a Republican, and I want to take those values and principles to Montgomery,” he said.

Brinyark received 595 votes (70%) in the Tuscaloosa portion of the district, where Cox received 135 (16%).

Brinyark could not be reached for a comment.

The seat became vacant after former Rep. Kyle South, R-Fayette, who assumed office in 2014, stepped down June 30th to become the CEO of the West Alabama Chamber of Commerce. During his time in the Alabama House of Representatives, he served as vice chair for Ways and Means General Fund, and was a member of several other committees.

South won House District 16 with 75% of the vote in 2014. He ran unopposed in 2018 and 2022.

House District 55

Hendrix said in a statement that he plans to keep on fighting.

“This was the first step in that process and I appreciate the voters supporting me. My campaign has been about getting out and connecting with people and we will keep doing that,” he wrote in a text message.

He said that as someone who grew up in the district and served it for the last 15 years in law enforcement, he said that he is the candidate that best understands the district’s needs.

“I hope the people here will do me the honor of allowing me to continue to serve them,” he said.

Alabama House District 16, 55 primaries headed to October runoffs
House District 55 candidate Travis Hendrix. (Courtesy of Travis Hendrix)

Swayne said that she is proud of the district and proud of Alabama.

“I think people really thought ‘Oh, who cares? It’s just some random 26-year-old – not going to be a problem,’ and people didn’t realize that it’s not me running. It’s the side of Alabama that’s left out of the conversation,” she said.

Swayne, who is transgender, said that she hopes that her campaign sent a message to anyone who is marginalized that they belong in Alabama.

“We are Alabama and that is always going to be the message,’ she said.

Oden-Jones could not be reached for a comment.

Seven Democrats competed for the party nomination in the Democratic-safe district. With no Republican opponent, the winner of the Democratic runoff will almost certainly become the House District 55 representative.

The seat became vacant after Rep. Fred Plump, D-Fairfield, resigned in May after pleading guilty to charges of conspiracy and obstruction of justice.  Plump ran unopposed in the 2022 general election after defeating incumbent Rep. Rod Scott, D-Fairfield, in a runoff for the Democratic nomination for the seat. Scott ran unopposed in the general election in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Earlier this year, the DOJ accused the freshman representative of taking money from a fund used to support programs in Jefferson County under the direction of another Jefferson County legislator, and kicking back a portion of it to a legislator’s assistant.