MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama state Rep. Jeremy Gray announced Thursday that he is running for Congress, joining what is becoming an increasingly crowded primary field in the new Democratic-leaning district in the Deep South state.
Gray, of Opelika, is seeking the Democratic nomination for the 2nd Congressional District. Two other Alabama lawmakers — state Rep. Napoleon Bracy of Prichard and state Sen. Kirk Hatcher of Montgomery — have announced they intend to run. A number of other legislators are considering bids.
“It’s been a long time since people in that area had hope and had someone that really understood the issues in that area,” Gray said. “I’ve been a part of bringing resources to that community through legislation and through funding.”
Federal judges last month selected new congressional district lines in Alabama after ruling the previous map likely violated the federal Voting Rights Act. The new map sets the stage for potentially flipping one U.S. House of Representatives seat from Republican to Democratic control and could lead to the election of two Black Congressional representatives to the state’s delegation for the first time.
The newly redrawn district stretches across south Alabama from the Mississippi border to the Georgia border, encompassing parts of Mobile, the capital city of Montgomery as well as rural areas. Black residents make up 48.7% of the voting age population, giving it a firm Democratic tilt.
Gray, 38, was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives in 2018 and served as minority party whip. He founded a nonprofit in east Alabama named for his great-grandfather that he said aims to be a community resource.
Gray drew national attention after passing legislation that revoked Alabama’s ban on yoga in public school gym classes. Gray, a former cornerback at North Carolina State University who also played professionally in Canada, said he was introduced to yoga through football, and that the exercises can provide mental and physical benefits to students. He wrote a children’s book about the benefits of yoga for mental health.
He said protecting natural resources and improving access to health care, including maternal health care would be among his priorities if elected.