HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - The primary election is in the rearview mirror and now the fight to represent north Alabama in Washington is underway.
Incumbent Republican Mo Brooks easily defeated a challenge from Huntsville businessman and military vet Clayton Hinchman on Tuesday night. He says the primary is a preview of what's coming this November. "The Republicans in Alabama ought to be very exuberant about what happened (Tuesday) night. More than twice as many people voted in the Republican primary for our candidates versus Democrats. That tells us we're in pretty good shape."
Brooks is already strategizing his general election campaign. "The key is just to emphasize some differences between myself and my philosophy of government versus my opponent's and the team that he's on," Brooks told WAFF 48's Margo Gray on Wednesday morning, just hours after his primary win. "If you get right down to it, think about border security or open borders. Think about socialist economic models or free enterprise. Think about strong national defense or weak national defense." Brooks says if you supported Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, you'll support his opponent. "I'm on the opposite side," Brooks said.
In recent years, Brooks has been criticized for holding few public town halls. When asked what he could do better if he's given another term in office, he recognized the issue and promised better communication. "When you're in this type of office, no matter what you do there's going to be naysayers. It's kind of a 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' with every vote you cast." Brooks said. "There's a lot of false information that gets out there about what you are actually doing. If there's one thing I'd like to see my office do better, it's better to communicate about what's really going on and what these votes really mean."
Attorney Peter Joffrion had a clear path to the Democratic nomination for the 5th District. Without a primary opponent, Joffrion says he's been able to focus on November. "I've been able to focus on getting out across the district and talking with people. It's helped tremendously." Joffrion told WAFF 48's Margo Gray on Friday.
Democratic candidates in Alabama have been virtually shut out of significant offices since 2010. But, Joffrion believes the 5th district can go blue this November. "Doug (Jones)'s election gave a lot of people hope. Hope that has not been there for the past eight years." Senator Jones didn't win the 5th district in the special election, but raw data shows Moore with 48.9% of the vote to Jones' 48.6%. "People are much more energized," Joffrion said. "People are awake, particularly women, they're activated and they're ready to go.
Joffrion says his focus on the campaign trail will be giving the people of north Alabama a voice. "I will listen. It's important that everyone have a seat the table regardless of whether or not they agree with you or disagree with you." He also pointed to his lifetime of experience in the Tennessee Valley, where the town thrives and struggles along with the military. "I know how important they are. I believe in them firmly. I'm a strong supporter of military readiness, a strong supporter of the Department of Defense, my son works for a defense contractor as well. Those are the issues important to the people in this area."
Rep. Brooks was first elected in 2010. Before that, the 5th district was represented by Parker Griffith. He was elected as a Democrat in 2008 but switched parties in 2009. Before Griffith, Democrat Bud Cramer represented the district for 18 years.
The election between Rep. Mo Brooks and Peter Joffrion is set for November 6th.
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