James C. Fields, a Methodist minister who in 2008 became the first black lawmaker elected from Cullman County, will officially announce his candidacy Friday in Birmingham, said his campaign spokeswoman, Mell Johnson.
Johnson announced Fields' candidacy in a news release that was posted to the blog Left in Alabama on Tuesday. In a brief conversation with The Star, Johnson confirmed Fields was indeed entering the race. Fields, when contacted by email, referred questions to Johnson.
Fields' election to the state House of Representatives in 2008 garnered nationwide attention, including a profile in The New York Times, largely because he was the first African American elected to the Legislature from Cullman County. The county is 96 percent white and 1.3 percent African American, according to the 2010 federal census; Fields is from a small black community known as Colony.
Fields lost a re-election bid in to Republican Mac Buttram in 2010.
According to the Times profile, Fields is a retired state employee who worked for the Department of Industrial Relations, a Marine veteran and an alumnus of Gadsden State Community College and Jacksonville State University. Fields is also pastor of St. James United Methodist Church in Irondale.
The Tuesday announcement from Fields' campaign quotes him as saying that he has coached and mentored thousands of children.
"If I can corral them, teach them, help them to learn to be respectful and make the right choices, I can do that for the Alabama State Legislature," Fields said in the release.
Fields is the second Democrat to express an interest in the lieutenant governor's race for 2014. Angelo "Doc" Mancuso, a cosmetic surgeon and former state legislator from Courtland, said in September that he is interested in a run for the office, according to The Decatur Daily. Neither Mancuso nor Fields has filed the paperwork with the Secretary of State's office to officially begin a campaign, state records show.
On the Republican side, incumbent Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey faces a primary challenge from Stan Cooke, the pastor of Kimberly Church of God in Jefferson County. Ivey has a significant money lead in the race with $275,000 in campaign funds on hand at the beginning of the month, to Cooke's $8,431. Both announced their candidacies over the summer.
"I'm going to out-work her," Cooke said Wednesday. "I don't think I can outspend her."
Asked about Fields' candidacy, Cooke said no Democrat can win the race.
Ivey responded with a prepared statement that "every campaign is a vigorous public debate" and that she looks forward to that debate.
Capitol & statewide correspondent Tim Lockette: 256-294-4193. On Twitter @TLockette_Star.