In what some might consider a surprising move, the Mobile chapter of the Alabama New South Coalition’s political action committee called the Alabama New South Alliance has endorsed 32-year-old Gregory Harris II for the House District 99 seat over former Mobile Mayor Sam Jones, former Circuit Court Judge Herman Thomas and six other candidates.

Chapter president Janetta Whitt-Mitchell told Lagniappe that Harris and Jones initially tied during the secret-ballot voting process, but that Harris won the endorsement in a runoff. Harris was one of several candidates the political advocacy group endorsed in a statement.

“We are confident in these individuals’ ability to be strong advocates of the citizens of Mobile County and the state of Alabama,” Whitt-Mitchell said in the statement. “Our endorsements have led to electing some of the most effective public servants in Alabama and we are pleased to offer this slate of candidates.”

Whitt-Mitchell acknowledged the organization’s shift away from Jones. She said ever since the former mayor has been a candidate, the group has endorsed him, but she had heard from a few members that it was time to go in another direction.

In a telephone interview Thursday afternoon, Harris thanked the organization and called the endorsement an “honor.” He added that the endorsement signaled an embracing of new and innovative ideas.

“Being the youngest candidate, by far, to me this is an immense honor,” he said. “ … The responsibility of that is recognized, cherished and will not be let down.”

In addition to Jones and Thomas, Harris faces Burton LeFlore, Henry Haseeb, Franklin McMillion, Gregory Parker and Rico Washington in the Democratic Primary in June. The winner will face Republican Charles Talbert in the November General Election.

The alliance also endorsed Democratic incumbents Adline Clarke in House District 97 and Vivian Figures in State Senate District 33. The alliance endorsed Democrat Arlene Cunningham Easley in House District 105. Although he has no primary opposition, the ANSA also endorsed Democrat Karlos Finley in the race for Mobile County Circuit Court Place 6.

On the Republican side, the ANSA endorsed Derrick Williams for Mobile County District Court Place 4. He faces fellow Republicans Spiro Cheriogotis and George Zoghby for the seat.

The group chooses its endorsements by allowing members in good standing to vote by way of secret ballot for the candidate of their choice for each seat, Whitt-Mitchell said. The option for “no endorsement” can be chosen.