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Daniels, Figures offer up cordial, focused debate

The Democratic candidates for the 2nd District agreed on a lot, but provided a refreshingly informed alternative to their Republican counterparts.

2nd Congressional District Democratic candidates Anthony Daniels, left, and Shomari Figures, right.
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Anthony Daniels and Shomari Figures agree on a lot. 

The two candidates for the Democratic nomination in the 2nd Congressional District spent an hour in a pre-taped debate laying out their solutions to a variety of issues facing Alabama families. In contrast to their Republican counterparts, those solutions tended to lean towards empathy and compassion, instead of punishment and fear, and were typically borne of personal experience. 

For example, on the issue of gun regulations, both Daniels and Figures spoke of personal loss and the experiences of what too many guns in the hands of people who shouldn’t have them can do to families. They mostly agreed on the steps that are needed, at least initially, to address gun violence, and they both attacked Republican initiatives – such as Alabama’s permitless carry law – that have increased gun violence. 

“We know that the permitless carry law has increased gun violence by 11 percent in states where it’s been implemented,” Daniels said. “But in addition to regulations, we also need to be proactive and allocate more resources and funding for afterschool programs and Boys and Girls Clubs to help give our young people things to do.” 

Figures agreed, noting his personal experience losing friends to gun violence. 

On the issue of the southern border, which brought about one of the worst moments of the Republican debate – when Caroleene Dobson suggested we should deport children born in America to immigrant parents – both Daniels and Figures, while acknowledging the issues at the border, each took a more compassionate approach. 

“There’s a way to pass meaningful, comprehensive immigration reform that secures our border without us losing sight of our core values in this country,” Figures said. “That’s the approach we must take.”

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Daniels agreed, noting that the people at the border are not unlike the ancestors of many Americans, who came here looking for salvation and a better life. 

“It is a crisis there, but we have to make sure that we’re coming together to create a process that both protects the border and also creates a process for individuals seeking to come here so they can get here legally and enjoy the same freedoms we do,” Daniels said. 

On the issue of health care, both candidates were critical of Alabama officials for failing to expand Medicaid, leaving more than 300,000 Alabamians in a coverage gap. That gap has been blamed for shuttering rural hospitals and driving doctors from the state. 

Both Figures and Daniels said they would work in congress to give Alabama officials an opportunity for a do-over on Medicaid expansion by re-offering the 100-percent federal match on funding. 

The two also largely agreed on the ways they would address inflation and artificial intelligence. 

The primary area where they diverged was in their individual experiences. Daniels, with 10 years of experience working in the Alabama Legislature, leaned into his public office experience and the legislation that he’s sponsored and passed that have helped Alabamians over the years. 

“If I can do these things in a super-minority in the state of Alabama, imagine what I can do if the numbers are close,” Daniels said. “I have the experience working across the aisle and track record to get things done to help people.”

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Figures, meanwhile, leaned heavily on his time working in the Obama administration and his work at the Department of Justice. While little of that work was Alabama-specific, some of it did address issues that face the state now. 

“I always like to err on the side of experience,” Figures said. “I’ve been to Washington. I know what the federal government looks like. I know what the committees look like. I know how it works. I have the experience to get things done.”

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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