As 1819 News and other media outlets have reported, the Alabama District 10 win of Democrat Marilyn Lands over Republican City Councilman Teddy Powell is way overblown. And it’s been intentional.

It reminds me of my days in California politics, where maybe 30% of the people showed up to vote, even in a presidential election. California’s liberal governor has claimed resounding victories and mandates THREE times (one time was a Recall) when less than half of the voting population bothered to show up. That’s no mandate; it’s a statement that the people know their vote doesn’t matter.

The scary part is that California bends over backwards to ensure everyone votes. “Voting centers” are open weeks before Election Day. On Election Day, employers are required to give their employees time off to vote. For many years the state offered absentee ballots that could be permanently sent to you once requested – one application for the life (and sometimes death) of the voter. Ballot harvesting is also legal, and after 2020, California law sends everyone a ballot by mail – no need to step out of your house to vote.

This not only creates more ways to erode election integrity, but it also reflects a lack of gravity and purpose to the process. If one needs all these accommodations to perform a civic responsibility that our ancestors bled and died to acquire, then what does that say about us?

Thankfully, Alabama shores its election process against all those loopholes. But if turnout in our elections is any indication, it seems Alabama voters don’t feel their vote matters.

Alabama has 3,780,290 registered voters. The number registered in District 10 for the March 26 special election was 41,016, but only 5,965 actually cast ballots. That’s 14.5% turnout. Either voters felt their vote did not matter, or they simply did not care. Both are terrible propositions.

Alabama Republican Party chairman John Wahl blamed low turnout as one reason Lands won the seat:

Wahl went on to discuss that special elections have a mind of their own and that it's all about turning out one's base. He says decisions made on strategy play a major factor in what that turnout looks like. He pointed to the extremely low turnout for Tuesday's election and said Democrats got lucky but that this would surely be a target seat come the next election cycle.

Think of this from the perspective of the movie “Jaws.” If Democrats are the great white shark, then Republicans are going to need a bigger boat – because when it comes to Alabama, Democrats are out for blood. They are using Lands’ victory to create a narrative of a national mandate, and that Alabama is ripe for takeover. If the Alabama GOP and the national Republican Party wants to succeed, they must take things more seriously and counter this narrative. So far, they’ve done a poor job, and I believe voters are noticing – hence, their lack of engagement.

I recently interviewed District 27 Republican candidate Billy Ray Todd about his upcoming April 2 special election, and he had much to say about the results in District 10:

District 10 should have been easily won. I don't know why. You know she's [Marilyn Lands] for everything that we are against as a nation, as a state, you know, full-term abortion, she wants to take away your Second Amendment rights. She wants that transgender stuff in schools. It's a disgrace, and Mr. Powell failed to fight for that seat.

Therein lies the rub. Lands put on the face of a fighter and claimed she was the champion who would protect women’s reproductive rights. That rallied her base in Southern Madison County and beyond, bringing financial support and heavy local and national news coverage.

What did Teddy Powell do?

According to Todd, (and probably the voters) this was a miss:

You know he’s making blooper videos. He was not taking it seriously and right now our nation, you know, at the local level, we gotta be heavily involved because if we can’t take care of local levels to stop this insanity going throughout our counties and cities, [then] we’re in trouble. Mr. Powell failed to do the job; apparently, he treated it like a baby's rattle. He didn't take it seriously, and he didn't campaign on what she [Lands] was all about, didn't raise the flags. [...] He failed. Miserably. And I can't understand why he allowed his campaign to put blooper videos on there and not challenge what she's trying to do.

If, as Wahl insists, District 10 will be a target seat in 2026, then a bigger boat candidate is not just a requirement, but a necessity. This is applicable across the board. The candidates that the Alabama GOP runs must be able to counter the whole “Alabama hates reproductive rights” narrative, effectively and passionately articulating what Republicans do stand for regarding life.

If national Democrats truly fueled Lands’ campaign in order to “scare Republicans in other states and help them fundraise off the issue,” then Republicans need to be on the ball and ahead of the curve in order to surmount this campaign.

Republican candidates also need to actually engage with voters on the issues that matter to them. A video and a rubber stamp from a conveyor-belt candidate does not a bigger boat make.

Jennifer Oliver O'Connell, As the Girl Turns, is an investigative journalist, author, opinion analyst, and contributor to 1819 News, Redstate, and other publications. Jennifer writes on Politics and Pop Culture, with occasional detours into Reinvention, Yoga, and Food. You can read more about Jennifer's world at her As the Girl Turns website. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Telegram.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to

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