By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Retired United States Air Force Colonel Penny Huggins Bailey announced Thursday that she is running as a Democrat to represent Alabama’s Sixth District in the United States Congress. The seat is currently held by Republican incumbent Spencer Bachus. The day after formally qualifying for the primary, Col. Bailey sat down for an exclusive interview with the ‘Alabama Political Reporter.’
After serving the country for 24 years in the U.S. Air Force, Colonel Bailey made the decision to continue to serve the country as a member of the United States House of Representatives. Col. Bailey said, “I originally thought I would run as an independent.” “At some time, both parties have failed us, but I soon realized our system requires a candidate to have a base of support. I am a fiscal conservative. And, initially thought I would run as a Republican.” However when she talked to Republican Party officials she was informed that they were going to support their incumbent (Rep. Bachus). After talking to the Alabama Democratic Party, she made the decision to run as a Democrat. No Democrat has run for this seat since the year 2000.
“When I talked to the Democratic leadership, I told them I am a fiscal conservative with strong family values and they understood. I actually talked to some blue dog Democrats in Washington and they confirmed that the party does not require anyone to vote for a far left agenda. I checked multiple sources and talked with Justice Kennedy [before making the decision to run].” Col. Bailey said that she made it clear to them “I will represent the people of District 6, not a party agenda. The Democratic Party says they understand and supported my position because they realize the majority of the people in District 6 have the same conservative values and ideals as I do.”
Colonel Bailey said, “I am not in this for a title. I served in the Air Force for 24 years. I am happy with my life, but I am not happy with the lack of representation for District 6.” Colonel Bailey said the problem in Washington is the growing polarization which is crippling the country. “The Tea Party and Occupiers are yelling to our leaders to fix our economic problems.” Col. Bailey said it appears both parties are positioning themselves for the next election and not coming together to do what is best for our country as a whole.
When asked if she would have to run to the left to win the Democratic Party Primary, Col. Bailey said, “I am not interested to catering into anybody. I am me. What you see is what you get. I will be honest with the people and they can decide if I am the one they want to represent them in Washington D.C.” Col. Bailey said she is “not worrying about positioning.”
Col. Bailey said it angered her when she learned about incumbent Representative Spencer Bachus increasing his own personal net worth instead of representing the people of the sixth district. “The more I researched him and his policies the more I wanted somebody to do something. Then, I decided I was somebody and I would take a stand to make things right.”
On the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act of 2010, commonly referred to as “Obamacare,” Col. Bailey said, “Some part of it needs to be reformed. I am not for big government to tell people how to spend their money. I have personally seen where families could not previously get health insurance, but now they can. Some parts of it have already reached out and helped Americans in need. I am waiting to see how the Supreme Court rules.”
On the Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, Col. Bailey said, “I need to look more into it. I don’t think we have all the information. When you are put into a leadership position you need to get all the information.” Col. Bailey said that she “will do what is right for America. The focus needs to be on America. I reserve the right to answer that until we get more facts. There is a lot more information that is going to come out on this issue, I think.”
On the recent recess appointment issue, Col. Bailey said, “My view is that is politics as normal. When they [presidents] can’t get something they want they have all used recess appointments.”
Colonel Bailey said, “Congress has not come up with a budget in three years. The answer is we need our leadership come together and create an economic plan that will work for our country. We need a plan for building a better America, not stronger parties.” Col. Bailey said her personal philosophy is: “Let those who come behind us find us faithful” (written by Steve Green).
On Rep. Bachus’s past support for the TARP legislation Col. Bailey said, “I do not believe in taking tax dollars to buy out big banks and then they [the bankers] enjoy their big bonuses. That was not in the best interests of the tax payers.” She also said that, “Cash for Clunkers proved to not be a good idea. I would not have voted for any of that.”
On the 2009 trillion dollar stimulus bill Col. Bailey said, “Just throwing money at a problem has not ever solved anything. I would have liked to see more shovel ready jobs. If we had put that stimulus money into real jobs, into improving the roads and the bridges I believe that kind of plan would have stimulated the economy quicker and sooner.”
On new EPA regulations on carbon dioxide emissions, Col. Bailey said, “The CO2 is a much bigger problem than just in America. China and other countries are pumping more into the atmosphere than we ever would. God has given us an amazing country and world and I believe it is our duty to take care of it. EPA’s purpose is meant to help us take care of what we have in a reasonable manner. We don’t need to get to the point of ridiculous.” Col. Bailey said that the federal government “shouldn’t shut down an entire town over a minnow” and that we don’t need to put domes over cows to try to limit greenhouse emissions. “EPA is not a legislative branch of the government and they should not have far reaching powers” to set a regulatory agenda without Congressional oversight.
On the subject of national defense and the armed forces Col. Bailey said, “Defense is my specialty. I have worked with three Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.” Col. Bailey said the armed forces should have a stated mission then develop a strategic plan to accomplish that mission. Then the national leadership needs to ask, “Is that a realistic view? Do we have the right weaponry to achieve that goal? Do we have the funds and the right manpower, resources, and weapons to work that plan.”
Colonel Bailey said that “Americans still believe in this country and will work hard to improve our economy if our leaders will develop a plan and tell the American people what we need to do.”
Colonel Penny Huggins Bailey has been married to J.D. Bailey for 30 years. He is still an active duty as a flight surgeon with the United States Air Force will deploy later this year. This will be his third deployment. Both Baileys were in the Pentagon on 9-11 when terrorists crashed a plane into the building. They have three grown children. Colonel Penny Bailey lives in Leeds where she grew up and her father still runs his own business. She has a degree from Samford University and is a graduate of Leeds High School.
Col. Bailey will face Birmingham Attorney William “Bill” Barnes in the Democratic Party Primary on March 13th. The winner of the Democratic Party Primary will then face the winner of the Republican Party Primary. Alabama State Senator Scott Beason, Tea Party activist Al Mickle, Tuscaloosa businessman Stan Pate, Blount County Probate Judge David Standridge, and Justin Barkley are all challenging incumbent Republican Representative Spencer Bachus for the Republican Party’s spot on the November 6th ballot.
Alabama Congressional District six is composed of all or parts of Bibb, Jefferson, Shelby, Chilton, and Coosa counties.