Candidates enter ring for special election

Published 2:00am Wednesday, June 19, 2013

As Rep. Jo Bonner prepares to step down from his seat in  the U.S. Congress in August, names are being added to the race to replace him as the representative for Alabama’s 1st Congressional District in a special election later this year. Monday evening, four of the candidates vying for the seat – Alabama Rep. Randy Davis, former Alabama gubernatorial candidate Bradley Byrne, Quin Hillyer and Alabama Rep. Chad Fincher – made a stop in Atmore to speak to members of the Escambia County Republican Party.
“This may be one of the friendliest races you’ll ever see,” Hillyer told the crowd. “We all know and respect each other.”
While all four men shared similar views on the problems facing, both the nation and Alabama’s 1st district, each candidate shared why they believe they would be the region’s best representative in Washington.
“Service is not an option, it is a requirement,” Fincher, who is serving in his second term in Montgomery, told the crowd. “Washington is out of control and when you live in the greatest country in the world, service is a requirement.”
Davis said he feels his time as a state representative uniquely qualifies him for the seat Bonner will soon vacate.
“This particular district mirrors my current district in a lot of ways,” he said. “We’ve had 25 meetings so far to gage, not what Randy Davis wants to do, but what the people want Randy Davis to do,” Davis said, adding that understanding the economy of the district is imperative to the region’s success.
“We are in a global economy,” Davis said. “Companies like Airbus are not local, but they are choosing our area to call home.”
Davis also warned that voters needed to choose a candidate willing to commit to the “long haul” of a voting process that will see the winner of the special election be forced to run again in the general election in 2014.
Byrne, who was defeated by now-Gov. Robert Bentley in the race for the Republican nomination for governor in 2010, said he believes strength is needed to make a difference in a government he also defined as, “out of control.”
“This is an exciting time, but also a very difficult time,” he  said holding a small copy of the U.S. Constitution. “This government has gone too far. They are doing things that infringe on liberties.”
Hillyer, who has spent years as a political columnist on both the state and national levels, said he has established relationships that would help him in D.C.
“I’m not a politician,” Hillyer said. “I am a thinker, a writer and an activist. But I have the experience and people know me. The thing about this seat is whoever wins will be new. They won’t be known, but I have made connections and people know who I am.”
Hillyer said, over the years, his ability to see the shifting political field and predict the coming changes has earned him a reputation for early detection.
“I have gained a reputation nationally as a distant early warning,” he said.
Although the complete list of candidates has not yet fully formed, the special election to replace Bonner is expected to be decided in late 2013.

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