By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Saturday, July 8, 2017, the Montgomery Republican Party hosted a Senate candidates forum in Montgomery’s historic State Farmers Market Café.
Dr. Randy Brinson said that he came to Montgomery 30 years ago as an Air Force physician and then decided to stay. After his Air Force service, he went into private practice. He has been very involved in the community. He and his wife formed Redeem the Vote. 12 years ago he became President of the Alabama Christian Coalition. Brinson said that he was tired of having our elections being bought by liberal elites and was tired of professional politicians saying they are conservative and then voting like liberals. Brinson said that he is the only person here who has a plan to help President Trump replace Obamacare. “We need to get rid of Common Core. We need to put prayer back in public schools. Alabama does not need a rubber stamp for Mitch McConnell. Send someone from Alabama to Washington don’t not send Washington to Alabama.”
US Representative Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) said that he has served here for many years in the 1980s and is happy to be back. Mo introduced his wife Martha and said they have five children and 8 grandchildren. He also introduced Judy Sanders, who is a key volunteer for his campaign in Montgomery and State Representative Mile Holmes whom he thanked for his endorsement and support he is giving. Brooks said that he offers two attributes: “The first is ethics. Candidates with poor ethics…you can’t trust them to do what they say they are going to do. Second I have a record of proved conservative leadership.” Brooks said that he has a high score from: Club For Growth, the American taxpayers Union, Heritage Action, and that Numbers USA ranked him #1 for borders for the last six years.
Businessman Dominic “Dom” Gentile said, “We are all Republicans. We are all Christians. We are all equal Christians.” Gentile criticized candidates who take money from Blue Cross Blue Shield (which he said is a 93 percent monopoly) and Drummond. Gentile said that Alabamians need the same healthcare choices that Congress has where they can select from four companies and 112 plans. “This election is not about me and it is not about these guys. It is about your children, you grandchildren and it is about you.” Gentile promised to deregulate medical cannabis which he would reschedule from a class one drug.
State Senator Trip Pittman (R-Montrose) said that he is a businessman with a successful tractor company in Baldwin County. Alabama has not elected a businessmen to the US Senate in 110 years. Pittman said he met his wife, Lynn from Mobile, at the University of Alabama and they have three children. He was in the ROTC at University of Alabama and he spent five years in the Alabama National Guard. He has served ten years in the Alabama Legislature, the last seven as budget chairman. “We passed the JOBs and the strongest anti-illegal immigration law in the country. That experience helps because I understand that there is a process in politics.”
US Senator Luther Strange thanked Perry Hooper Jr. for his support and his work in electing Donald Trump last year, “Thank you Perry, for being here. It is a new day in America thanks to you. As Attorney General, I put together the best public integrity team in the United States and I told them to follow the truth wherever it goes. That led to two dozen career politicians being convicted.” Strange touted his record fighting the Waters Of The United States Rule, defending EWTN, and in the Hobby Lobby case…President Trump is the greatest thing to happen to this country.” Strange said that he held Mary Sessions hand while Jeff Sessions was being attacked. “The first thing I did (in the Senate) was vote for Tom Price for Health and Human Service Secretary. When Chuck Schumer vowed to defeat the nomination for Neil Gorsuch, we invoked the nuclear option (the most drastic or extreme response possible to a particular situation).”
Dr. James Beretta said, “I am not a career politician.” Beretta touted his experience working with State and National Medical Societies. He has business experience with his family’s construction companies in the Northeast. Dr. Beretta said that he has been a practicing physician in Alabama for 25 years. He has also been to law school. “I am a small businessman.” Beretta said that he also has been an educator teaching UAB medical students in their residency. “I have been very involved in the community…I have been a Boy Scout leader. I have given $125,000 a year in free health care on average since I have been here.” Beretta said that he is going to focus on healthcare, taxes, and improving the quality of State education, “especially bringing your children forward with improving education in Alabama.”
Bryan Peeples said. “It all boils down to leadership. We are all seeking a position of leadership. All of us have experience in one area or another. I am the youngest candidate in the field at 37. My generation has been through three economic downturns. We are still recovering from or we are attempting to recover from the last economic downturn. It is time for my generation to take the reins of leadership and start moving forward. I will represent you. I am an optimistic, passionate Republican leader.”
After introductions, the candidates answered questions.
Dr. Randy Brinson said that in the short term we need to grow the economy so we actually have a tax base. Brinson criticized the road construction efforts. “People don’t have confidence in the roads. You repair a road and it needs to be resurface again in five years. I saw one road in South Africa that has been there for 50 years. Grow the economy.”
Rep. Mo Brooks said that his office is good at constituent services. “We have 40-50,000 communications to our office every year. Everyone gets a letter in return that has been personally reviewed by me. I meet regularly with constituents both in Washington DC or in the district.”
Dom Gentile said that the biggest threat that we face today is Obamacare. If North Korea puts a warhead on an ICBM near a launch pad “it is game over. We take them out before they can ever launch. Any ISIS cells we can identify in our State needs to go.”
Bryan Peeples said, “We have talked about immigration reform for 50 years; since President Reagan. We need comprehensive immigration reform. We need to work across the aisle to get this done. I support the idea of a wall but I do not like the physical wall idea. That is a waste of funds. We need to utilize technology.”
Sen. Luther Strange said “Obamacare is a disaster. Alabama was hit worst of any State. Premiums have gone up 300 percent on the individual market. I got to Washington and I hoped Republicans that have been talking about if for seven years had a plan to replace it. They didn’t. The best thing to do is to, Repeal the law right now. We can worry about replacing it in a year or two.”
Brooks said that the biggest issues are: the repeal of Obamacare, infrastructure, and border security; but the only way we are going to accomplish anything is to change the rules of the United States Senate. Right now we have to grovel at the feet of Chuck Schumer and his 48 to get anything done.
Dom Gentile said, “The biggest issue is healthcare. Another thing is taxes. I have called for a flat tax of 20 percent. You can fill out you taxes on a postcard. That will eliminate the IRS.”
Peeples said that we need to change the 60 votes filibuster rule. “We can’t go down that road anymore.”
Sen. Pittman said, “We need to have expectation for people that are able bodied to work and take care of themselves.”
Strange said that he would work to get the government out of our lives.
Gentile said, “The reason that Republicans can’t do what we want to do is that we don’t have control of the special interests. I have not taken PAC money, will not take PAC money, I will never take PAC money. Your congressmen and Senators are bought and paid for by special interests. One of us up here has 231 pages of special interests” (referring to Strange).
Brinson said that it is the special interest that own Congress. This election will determine whether it will be the people or the special interests who run this country. Brinson said that in addition to being a doctor he is a businessman who working with Agriculture and Industries Commissioner John McMillan have brought projects worth $16 billion to the Alabama economy. “I am the only one who has negotiated a trade deal. I have dealt with world leaders across the globe. I have dealt with eight world leaders and I still have them on my cell phone.
Strange said “it is an honor to be in Washington supporting President Trump.” Please vote. Whether you vote for me or not, vote. “A lot of men and women have sacrificed at lot for you to be able to do that.”
Brooks said that he has been endorsed by: Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Mark Levine, and Congressman Mike Rogers.
The Special Major Party Primaries are on August 15, 2017. If necessary the Special Primary Runoff will be on September 28.
The Special General Election is on December 12.