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The Sure Shot owner Woody Baird, left, speaks with Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bradley Byrne in Baird’s store Tuesday afternoon as Byrne visited Tallapoosa County.

Bradley Byrne, who was campaigning in Tallapoosa and Coosa counties earlier this week, is no stranger to politics in Alabama.

Byrne has served on the state board of education, in the state Senate, as chancellor of Alabama’s community college system and ran for governor. He currently serves in the as U.S. representative for Alabama’s First District in Mobile. His first political office was on the state board of education where he fought the federal government’s efforts to control Alabama’s schools. It was something his conservative constituents wanted.

Byrne believes current U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) is not supporting the ideals of Alabamians.

“The person we have as our U.S. senator is not representing the state of Alabama,” Byrne said. “When your main speech on the floor is about gun control, you are not representing the state of Alabama. When you vote against the confirmation of somebody like Judge (Brett) Kavanaugh, you are not representing the state of Alabama. When you speak against building a wall, you are not representing Alabama. Only five nations allow abortions after 20 weeks and when you vote against outlawing abortions after 20 weeks, you are not representing Alabama.”

Byrne spent Tuesday campaigning in Tallapoosa and Coosa counties visiting businesses and local government officials and meeting voters. Byrne is thankful for U.S Sen. Richard Shelby’s (R-AL) efforts to support Alabama from Huntsville through out the state’s universities and its port in Mobile.

“The federal government plays an important and constructive role in many places in Alabama,” Byrne said. “Sen. Shelby has been good about making sure we get our fair share. I am going to work with him to that.”

Byrne believes a limited government and should help with the state’s military installations as it supports many who work and live in Alabama.

“We have a number of important military installations in the state,” Byrne said. “Those are all important to national security. They are also important to the health of the Alabama economy.”

Military installations in Alabama include Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Anniston Army Depot, Maxwell Airforce Base in Montgomery, Ft. Rucker in Ozark and the Navy shipyard in Mobile. 

Roads are part of the infrastructure Byrne believes the federal government can and should support.

“We have a number of very important infrastructure projects in the state, not just the northern loop in Birmingham but some key roads in the Huntsville and Decatur area,” Byrne said. “You have a number of roads in the state that need to be four-laned. I have seen a bunch of them over the last several months. 

“Almost everywhere I go in the state someone will take me and show me a road that has got to be four-laned. We have a number of two-laned roads that need to be four-laned. We have a number of interstates that need to be widened. We have many bridges that need to be replaced or built. We need to build a bridge across the Mobile River. We have a lot of infrastructure projects in addition to modernizing the ship harbor in Mobile.”

Byrne likes the federal support Alabama’s universities get for research. 

“There is an amazing amount our federal government does with our universities – Auburn, Alabama, Troy and the University of South Alabama.” 

Byrne said the federal government can support infrastructure and still not get in the way of what Alabamians want.

“We have infrastructure needs across the state,” Byrne said. “That is one thing government should be doing. I think there are a lot of things government shouldn’t be doing but infrastructure is something it ought to be doing.”

Byrne said Alabamians are not in favor of gun control and neither is he.

“Like most people in Alabama, I own guns – guns plural,” Byrne said. “I have my whole life, my daddy before me and his daddy before him. 

“As long as my sons and I are behaving with our guns, it is no business of the government to know what we are doing. We should be free to own and use our guns in safe and appropriate ways. I am not for doing crazy stuff. The vast majority of gun owners just want to be able to own their guns, use them for hunting or target practice and maybe for protection. That’s America. That’s why we have the Second Amendment. I am going to do everything I can stand up against those efforts to take away those rights and I have.”

Alabama has is currently under federal court orders to do something about its state prisons. It is something Byrne said should be left up to the state.

“The best thing we can do is keep the federal government out of the state legislators’ hair,” Byrne said. “It is a state issue. The state ought to figure out how to deal with it and the federal government ought not be telling them how to deal with it.”

Healthcare costs have escalated for everyone across the U.S. and Alabama. Byrne said he has  helped bring change that has made efforts of healthcare systems in the state easier.

“I was at the hospital (Tuesday),” Byrne said. “I had a good meeting and long tour with (Russell Medical). I think this new relationship with UAB will prove to be very smart on their part. 

“I worked very hard the last couple of years to get Medicare Wage Index change which means more money is coming into Alabama for hospitals to perform Medicare services. It is not the only thing they need but they confirmed to me it was a real shot in the arm. These hospitals are critical to these state and these communities not only for healthcare but also for economic development. It is the second largest employer in the county.”

Limited government can still protect the environment without overreaching.

“I live on Mobile Bay and am a big believer in clean water,” Byrne said. “I think there are common sense things we can do to protect it. 

“I always get suspicious of the federal government when it gets involved because they will tell you to do some things that aren’t common sense. I have always been a supporter of the Clean Water Act and am a supporter of common sense things we can do within the Clean Water Act, but I don’t want to unelected bureaucrats in Washington to do something crazy.”

Byrne faces competition in the March Republican primary election from Stanley Adair, John Merrill, Arnold Mooney, Roy Moore, Ruth Page Nelson, Jeff Session and Tommy Tuberville. The winner of the primary will face Democrat incumbent Jones. Byrne said he is the only candidate in the field who represents the beliefs of all Alabamians.

Byrne added, “I am the only one who has a track record of fighting effectively for things that people in Alabama want.”

Cliff Williams is a staff writer for Tallapoosa Publishers.