It’s a question of time and place, with two very different interpretations.
The Alabama Secretary of State’s office said Thursday that the current boundaries of House District 74 – being vacated at the end of the month by Rep. Jay Love, R-Montgomery — will hold for a special election expected to be called for the seat.
That could be an issue for Rep. Joe Hubbard, D-Montgomery, who has purchased a home within the new District 74 boundaries and is considering entering the special election. Hubbard’s residence is outside the current lines.
“You do have to live in the district for a year,” said Deputy Secretary of State Emily Thompson Thursday. “Even if the general election ends up being in the year 2014, it’s a primary that begins in the 2013 cycle, and then the 2013 lines will be in effect.”
Hubbard said Thursday he has not made a decision whether to run in the special election, though he plans to seek the seat in next year’s general election. However, he said that the law as written would allow him to run, and accused Republicans of trying to make his race for the seat more difficult.
“The whole purpose of the special election was that they wanted to get a fresh-faced Republican in that seat, because knew it was my intention to represent that district in 2014,” he said. “Their numbers probably looked a lot like mine, which showed the election as a virtual dead heat.”
The question turns on the meaning of 2014 in the 2012 House reapportionment bill, which moved Hubbard’s current district into fast-growing and Republican-leaning Shelby County. Section 8 of the bill includes language that makes the boundaries effective “at the General Elections of 2014 and 2018.”
Hubbard said the bill’s language means that any election held in 2014 will have to take place within the redrawn House District 74 boundaries, which would make him eligible.
“I see nothing that could happen between February of 2014 and November of 2014 that could make me less qualified as candidate for that district,” he said.
The Secretary of State’s office disagrees with that interpretation. Thompson said that because the election is to fill out the remainder of Love’s term, it will take place on the 2013 election cycle, and within the current district lines.
“If a person was simply running for District 74, which they could be already, they could have started fundraising,” she said. “So that would be under the new lines. But this is for the remainder of a 2013 term, so it’s under the old lines.”
Love announced earlier this month he would step down from his seat effective Aug. 1, to pursue unspecified business opportunities and education reform advocacy. Montgomery County Commissioner Dimitri Polizos and former Montgomery County Board of Education President Charlotte Meadows have announced they will seek the Republican nomination for the seat. Montgomery County Board of Education member Heather Sellers said she is also considering a run.
Gov. Robert Bentley has not yet set a date for the special election.
House District 74 currently encompasses most of central Montgomery north of I-85 and south of Northern Boulevard. The new district lines would keep the core of the district, but add a large portion of eastern Montgomery, and a swath of territory south of I-85 and extending down Vaughn Road.
– posted by Brian Lyman