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GOP candidates for 2nd Congressional District make pitches at forum

The primaries are just over one week away on Tuesday, March 5.

Former state Sen. Dick Brewbaker, left; Sen. Greg Albritton, center; and Caroleene Hardee Dobson, right.
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The Republican candidates for Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District made their stances heard Sunday night at a forum hosted by WSFA just a week before the primary.

State Sen. Greg Albritton, R-Atmore, and former State Senator Dick Brewbaker, R-Pike Road were joined by political newcomer Caroleene Dobson on one side of the forum stage as the frontrunners in the race. Also attending were candidates Belinda Thomas, who claims to be the only African-American woman to be elected as a Republican in the state, businesswoman Karla DuPriest and attorney Hampton Harris.

The candidates largely shared similar views on the topics discussed during the forum, while still trying to set themselves apart.

Dobson positioned herself as the outsider coming to shake things up.

“I was the first Republican to qualify in this race, but I’ve never been in politics,” Dobson said. “… There’s real work to be done and we don’t need to send more career politicians to Washington.”

Brewbaker said he thought he was done with politics when he left the Alabama Senate in 2018, but said he decided to run for Congress because of the state of the country.

“We’re more at risk now than we’ve been in since World War II,” Brewbaker said. “And the inflation that’s hurting our families is a direct result of bad policy coming from Washington.”

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DuPriest is the only candidate who spent much of any time referencing the redistricting, calling out the “gerrymandering” from the state and vowing to represent the district well.

“I will support the party with integrity with respect and uphold our values,” Thomas said.

Gridlock

The candidates said they would work to break through Congressional gridlock, but would not sacrifice their Conservative values to do so.

“Gridlock in Congress is proverbial, but the way to approach it is you can’t sacrifice your values just so you can say you worked with the other side,” Brewbaker said. “But when I was in the legislature, I always took a problem-solving approach to legislation. And if you approach a problem from the idea of solving it, you can usually find reasonable people who are willing to help you solve it.”

Albritton said going into Congress is as much about relationships as it is policy.

“Very often, it is not a matter of what’s right or wrong, it’s a matter of what you can get past and how you can accomplish good,” Albritton said. “You may not be able to get great, you may not even get the best. But you’ve got to be able to work across the aisle and not just across the aisle, but with our own party members. If you’ll notice, we have our own fights going on.”

Dobson said the key to avoiding gridlock is to increase the Republican majority in the House.

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“If you send me to Washington, I will fully work with President Trump to fix the economy and secure our borders,” Dobson said. “And look, I’m running to fight for Alabama families. So of course, I will work with anyone who’s going to make our country safer, more secure, more prosperous, more faith based, but I will not compromise my conservative values to do that.”

Immigration

Dobson said the crisis at the Mexican border is a “full-on invasion,” and said “if you want to talk about who’s plotting insurrection, it’s Biden with his open border policy.”

“It’s not just the crime and the drugs, the terrorist cells, the diseases that are coming across the border, not even addressing all of those issues, just the sheer number of non taxpayers who are coming here relying on our social services,” Dobson said. “It’s going to cause our country to collapse if something is not done.”

Each candidate was asked about immigration in terms of the recent bipartisan immigration bill that died in the House.

Albritton said no new laws are necessary to control the border.

“We do not need another law passed. Another law passed and ignored is not going to help,” Albritton said. “We have the laws in place already. We have the laws already to enforce the borders. The executive branch and the administration is simply not enforcing them. That’s our problem. It is not a matter that we need to pass another law. It is not a matter that we need to have additional taxation or additional funds. We have those resources already.”

Brewbaker said the situation is not complicated, but that lawmakers seemingly lack the “will to do it.”

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“We’ve got to build a wall, finish the wall, aggressively patrol the border including the use of the National Guard and military if that’s what’s necessary,” Brewbaker said. “And when people come into our country illegally. We need to send them home. What we’re currently doing is incentivizing illegal immigration by offering housing, debit cards … And if people knew that when they got to the United States, they were going to end up on the first plane back to wherever they came from, I think you’d have fewer people trying to enter.”

Education

Brewbaker advocated for dissolving the U.S.Department of Education and sending its funding back to states in the form of block grants.

Each candidate gave their support to federal tax credits that could go toward private education.

Dobson said school choice is important because students in public schools “may be learning critical race theory in schools, you may have boys and girls bathrooms in schools.”

“Parents need more options and I would absolutely support national school choice to enable them to have a more active role in determining how and where their children can succeed,” Dobson said.

Residency

Whether a candidate resides in the new District 2 lines has been a major question on the Democratic side of the race, and Republican candidates were asked their thoughts on whether residency matters.

Residency will not have as much of an impact on the GOP primary as the majority of the Republican candidates running do live in the district. The majority of Democrats live outside the district.

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The GOP candidates all agreed it is generally better that a candidate reside in the district lines, but the law allows for a candidate from any part of the state to run.

Other topics touched on during the forum included agriculture, inflation and government spending.

The primaries are just over one week away on Tuesday, March 5.

Jacob Holmes is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]

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