Democrat candidate Marilyn Lands, a licensed professional counselor, defeated Republican Teddy Powell, a Madison City Council member, to fill an empty Alabama state House seat.

Alabama state House District 10 was left vacant after former GOP state Rep. David Cole pleaded guilty to voter fraud.

In a special election, Lands defeated Powell by nearly 25 points to give Democrats the Huntsville-area seat.

According to Decision Desk HQ, Lands won by a vote of 62.4% to 37.6%.

NBC News reports that Lands made in vitro fertilization and abortion critical components of her campaign.

In vitro fertilization became a controversial topic in Alabama after the state’s high court ruled that frozen embryos created through in vitro fertilization are children and entitled to the same legal rights as “unborn children.”

Multiple clinics in the state suspended IVF services to consider the legal repercussions of the decision.

“Today, Alabama women and families sent a clear message that will be heard in Montgomery and across the nation. Our legislature must repeal Alabama’s no-exceptions abortion ban, fully restore access to IVF, and protect the right to contraception,” Lands said in a statement, according to NBC News.

NBC News reports:

While campaigning, Lands focused on IVF and access to abortions, telling voters that she supports repealing the state’s near-total ban on abortions, which went into effect after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade in 2022.

Her campaign website notes endorsements from groups such as Planned Parenthood, the Alabama AFL-CIO and the gun control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety.

Republican Gov. Kay Ivey signed a GOP-backed bill to protect IVF after widespread backlash to a ruling by the state Supreme Court in February that threatened the procedure. Tuesday’s contest was seen as an early test for Democrats campaigning on IVF after the high court’s ruling.

The special election was called after David Cole, a Republican who defeated Lands in 2022 by 7 percentage points, pleaded guilty to a voter fraud charge last year and resigned.

From The Hill:

The state House district is an unusual one given its purplish political leanings in a largely red state. Political observers tuned into the race to see if the issues of IVF and abortion might sway voters in the unique Alabama district.

Heather Williams, president of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC), called the results a “political earthquake” in a statement.

“This special election is a harbinger of things to come – Republicans across the country have been put on notice that there are consequences to attacks on IVF – from the bluest blue state to the reddest red, voters are choosing to fight for their fundamental freedoms by electing Democrats across the country,” she added.

According to USA Today, Lands argued the “law passed in response to the state Supreme Court’s IVF ruling, which aimed to protect IVF providers and patients from prosecution, fell short and did not address the root concerns with the court’s decision.”

Powell reportedly focused on infrastructure and the economy in his campaign.

USA Today noted:

While Powell expressed support for IVF access, he argued that it was a different from abortion. He also criticized Lands for defining the 10th District race around reproductive issues.

“I’m not sure any race can or should be about a single issue,” he told USA TODAY. “Our district has many challenges that we’re facing that aren’t related at all to this specific issue.”

The race could be a microcosm for broader 2024 election trends.

Republican candidates across the country, including presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, are campaigning on issues such as immigration and the economy. They believe inflation and national security are among the most salient issues for voters this year.

Democrats, meanwhile, see abortion as a key motivating issue for voters, based on a string of ballot measure successes since the 2022 midterms.

But the Alabama race is among the first data points this year on which issues are most impactful. And the results nod in favor of Democrats.

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