Alabama's only female Republican candidate for United States Senate is brand new to the Yellowhammer state. She's also a newcomer to the Southeast and in fact, it's been decades since even lived in the Northern Hemisphere.
Just over a month ago, Mary Maxwell moved from Australia to Montgomery in order to run for the seat that Jeff Sessions vacated when he became attorney general.
Maxwell, whose only connection to Alabama is that her parents lived there during World War II, found out about the special election when she saw an article on Yahoo.
She announced her candidacy to her blog audience, writing, "Dear Faithful, I have left the building. I have departed Oz, maybe never to return. I found out about a job opportunity, and, as the shades of night are falling fast, I thought I had better go for it."
But if she comes from Australia, how can she run for Congress? In order to run for Senate in Alabama, a candidate must: be a U.S. citizen of at least nine years, be at least 30 years old, and have lived in the state for at least one day. Maxwell meets all three.
She was born and raised in Boston, and lived in several other states before meeting her Australian husband, George. As she writes on her campaign website, she subsequently "followed him Down Under in 1980."
Having run for Congress in 2006 in New Hampshire, Maxwell has experience with electoral politics. Though she came up short, she figured she would try again. "Come on, there's no harm in trying," she writes on her campaign site.
With a Ph.D. in politics from the University of Adelaide, Maxwell brings to the race a strong constitutional focus. "I stand for the rule of law. I stand for strict adherence to our wonderful – almost miraculous – Constitution."
Because of her strict constitutional view, Maxwell was not pleased that President Trump bombed Syria, but doesn't blame only him for impropriety. "Although I am furious with Trump for attacking Syria, it is entirely Congress' fault for letting him get away with it. Rand Paul is the only senator who made a stink," she told the Examiner.
Maxwell's platform also has some other Rand Paul/libertarian elements as well. "I stand against war. Period. Or ‘regime change,' as in Libya. I will oppose mandatory vaccinations with my life. I'm all the way with the right to marry and the right to carry."
Despite those libertarian tendencies, Maxwell prefers the title of conservative. "While I will defend the liberty-heavy Bill of Rights down to the last comma, I do not consider liberties my main focus. I identify as 'conservative' in the sense of conserving the wonderful legacy we have."
Maxwell certainly distinguishes herself from other candidates, both with her platform and her story, but being well known gives candidates a leg up in Alabama. Perhaps Maxwell can count on Southern hospitality, if not her name recognition: "If you will but give me a chance," she concludes her platform.