When Lee County election results were announced for the 1996 general election, it was apparent that Republicans made great gains. This was my first election as a political writer in Alabama. At the then 100-year-old courthouse a delighted man yelled, “It’s like an invasion.” In a larger sense, it was a night that marked plenty of victories for the GOP. In the 27 years since, the Republican Party gradually became dominant almost all over the state.
Other big changes have come in American politics, and the public may not fully grasp how much more diverse the U.S. House and U.S. Senate are, all across the demographics. Pew Research Center, two weeks after the 118th Congress convened, released charts that identified the categories. Congress was shown to have a “changing face” that indicated the diversity in the body grew fast.
“The 118th Congress is the most racially and ethnically diverse in history,” wrote Katherine Schaeffer, a research analyst at Pew. “Overall, 133 lawmakers identify as Black, Hispanic, Asian American, American Indian, Alaska Native, or Multiracial. Together, these lawmakers make up a quarter of Congress, including 28% of the House of Representatives and 12% of the Senate.”
In 1945 the 79th Congress had non-White lawmakers who represented just 1% of the House and Senate combined. It is designed as a “representative” body but it has taken decades to really make the place where most people see and can say: “I saw someone who looks like me among the congress men and women.”
“We cannot change Washington if we keep sending the same establishment politicians to Congress,” said Hampton Harris, 27, a Republican candidate for the redistricted 2nd Congressional District. “America is at a crossroads, and members of my generation are desperate to fight for the values that seem to be under assault from the radical left. Weakness won’t defeat the woke.” Harris is an attorney and a realtor. Woke means “concerned about social injustice and discrimination.”
In the 115th Congress, Millennials had 16% in the Senate; but at the current congress, 23% of the senators are Millennial (born 1981-1996). Also in the congress of 2017-2018, there was just one Millennial for an 0.2 average. But on the down side, only 97 members have served in the military. This is among the lowest number since World War II.
More congressman are retiring earlier to work for corporations, as “talking-heads” on TV, to run for governor or president, etc. But as we see below, some members of Congress stayed 50 or more years. Rep. John Dingell stayed in the House 59 years and 21 days. After Dingell retired from the House, he was succeeded by Debbie Dingell, his widow. So that one congressional seat has been filled for 65 years so far by just two related people!
“Our military is not fit to fight nor ready to defend our nation against terrorists who want to cause destruction,” said Harris, the Republican candidate in the 2nd Congressional District. “VA is more concerned with providing gender conforming treatments and surgeries than providing elders who served with basic medical needs.” He had two grandfathers who served in the military and his wife is a JAG officer in the Air Force.
According to Pew Research, 13 voting members of Congress identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual. This includes two U.S Senators and 11 members of the U.S. House. No openly transgender politicians are members. The 13 LGBTQ+ people in Congress represents now 2% of the voting legislators. That means LGBTQ people are dwarfed by the US Population (2.0 to 6.5%).
The 2nd Congressional District includes all of Montgomery, the eastern half of the Black Belt, the northern half of the Wiregrass, and part of Southwest Alabama, including most of Mobile. The 2nd District race has 21 candidates qualified to run, 13 Democrats and eight Republicans.African Americans are expected to take that district on March 5 as it approximately — they may have 48 %of the vote. There could even be a 94% vote total due to the redistricting. The new 2nd Congressional District then, is likely to give another the state two black House members, for the first time. But any way you look at that, it is big news.
Results for the 1996 election, cited in the introduction were not only terrific for Republicans, they were sometimes difficult to read due to old technology. Later contests were much better. Credit Bill English, the probate judge and county commission chair for 24 years. He is ending his successful tenure due to term-limits. I consider English not just a source, but a friend. Good luck judge!
Today I am reading—“Afternoons with Harper Lee” by Wayne Flynt for a book review; also, “Don’t Ever Call a State’s Results Where People Are Still Voting,” in National Review.

Greg Markley moved to Lee County in 1996. He has a master’s in education from AUM and a master’s in history from Auburn University. He taught politics as an adjunct in Georgia and Alabama. An award-winning writer in the Army and civilian life, he has contributed to the Observer since 2011. He writes on politics, education, and books.