The qualifying period for candidates seeking the District 11 state House of Representatives concluded Wednesday evening, with one Democrat and four Republicans entering the race.

State Democratic headquarters in Alabama reported that Kelly Evans of Hanceville qualified on the final day as her paperwork arrived before 5 p.m.

Four Republican candidates — Randall Shedd, Lydia Haynes, Mike Graves, and Danny Alldredge — filed their paperwork long before the deadline arrived. Harold Sachs, a spokesman for the state GOP, said the election will provide an opportunity to send another new voice to Montgomery once the election is decided.

The seat was vacated when longtime House member Jeremy Oden accepted an appointment from Gov. Robert Bentley to serve on the Alabama Public Service Commission.

The special election has been set by the governor for Feb. 12. That date will only involve the Republican candidate since only one Democrat qualified. If the GOP needs a runoff to decide the nominee, the voters will return to the polls on March 26. The GOP winner will face the Democrat on May 7. The special election means that the district will be without a representative when the 2013 session of the Legislature begins.

John Sawyer, an official with the state Democratic Party, said he was pleased that Evan decided to enter the race and believes that more Democrats will begin to step forward into the political arena when the 2014 elections arrive.

“I feel like the Republican Party, especially in Alabama, is drifting too far to the right. As Democrats we cover a wide range of issues, and there are liberal and conservative Democrats. We’re already seeing a lot of interest in the 2014  elections,” Sawyer said.

Sawyer said one of the keys for a resurgence by the Democratic Party will be getting voters reinvigorated and out to the polls.

“We’re going to really have to work hard to get our vote out. That’s an issue both parties face, especially in Alabama,” Sawyer said. “I think we’re starting to see voters trending back to looking at the person seeking the office and not just the party. Alabama’s demographics are changing; we’re becoming a more diverse state. The Republicans also doesn’t have the market cornered on values. That’s just completely wrong.”

Sachs said the four GOP candidates will present a strong field for local voters to consider.

“None of the candidates have served in Montgomery before, and I think that can be a big plus sometimes when a candidate comes forward with new ideas and a determination to get some things accomplished,” Sachs said. “The Republicans have the ball right now in Alabama and I think there will be a lot of pressure on the House and Senate to do some things that are needed for the state. A lot of new people went to Montgomery after the last election and they’ve had some time to see up close what needs to be done and the process that is needed to accomplish their goals.”

David Palmer may be contacted at dpalmer@cullmantimes.com or 256-734-2131, ext. 213.

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