Copland, a Democrat who lives in Alexandria, said he's running because he doesn't like what the current Legislature has done with education — particularly the Alabama Accountability Act, a new law that gives tax credits to some parents who send their children to private schools.
"I'm concerned about the condition of our school system, or, since the Accountability Act, the lack of a school system," he said.
Copland, 38, grew up in the west Alabama town of Fayette. After graduating from the University of Montevallo and the Mississippi College School of Law, he came to Calhoun County to work as an assistant district attorney. He now maintains a law office in Anniston and serves as the city prosecutor, a contract position.
Copland said he has an official election kick-off planned for the next few weeks and he expects to file formal paperwork in coming days. But he has made statements about his intent to run at Democratic meetings in recent weeks.
Brown, the Jacksonville Republican who currently holds the District 40 seat, said he'd heard talk of a Copland run two months ago. Brown, who so far has no primary opposition, said he'll run on the record of the Republican supermajority elected in 2010.
"I think we've made really good strides for the business community," he said.
Brown credited Republican reforms as a reason for the decline in the state's unemployment rate, and he cited recent efforts to consolidate state agencies as an example of the GOP's willingness to reduce the size of government.
Brown, 62, is owner of K.L. Brown Funeral Home in Jacksonville and K.L. Brown Memory Chapel in Anniston. He won election to the House twice in 2010, first in a special election held after the death of Rep. Lea Fite, then in the general election later that year.
In 2010, the district included Jacksonville and much of northern Calhoun County. After last year's redistricting, District 40 lost Piedmont, Roy Webb and other communities in the northern part of the county. On its south end, District 40 picked up new communities such as Friendship.
Both candidates said they're familiarizing themselves with the new district lines.
"I guess I have to get in my little truck and drive it all," Brown mused.
Copland said he plans to campaign not on party affiliation, but on his own personal qualifications as a candidate.
"People should start voting for the person, not the party," he said.
Both Brown and Copland say they're just beginning to raise money for the election, which is still more than a year away, and both say they don't have enough money to report under campaign finance laws.
Primaries will be held in June of 2014. If no other candidates emerge, Brown and Copland will face each other in the November 2014 general election.
Capitol & statewide correspondent Tim Lockette: 256-294-4193. On Twitter @TLockette_Star.