Republicans debate ahead of runoff for Alabama congressional seat

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The two Republicans running for Alabama’s redrawn 2nd Congressional District clashed in a debate that aired Monday ahead of next week’s runoff.

Dick Brewbaker, a businessman and former state senator, and Caroleene Dobson, an attorney and political newcomer, are vying for the GOP nomination in the April 16 runoff. The winner will face the Democratic nominee in the closely watched November election.

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In this undated photo provided by Dobson for Congress, Caroleene Dobson poses for a photo in Alabama. Dobson is running for the 2nd Congressional District seat in Alabama. The two Republicans running for Alabama’s redrawn 2nd Congressional District faced off in a debate ahead of the April 16 runoff. Dick Brewbaker, a businessman and former state senator, and Dobson, an attorney and political newcomer, are vying for the GOP nomination.  (Courtesy of Dobson for Congress via AP)

Dobson and Brewbaker traded verbal jabs in the debate as Dobson criticized legislative votes that Brewbaker had taken on taxes and business regulation. Brewbaker fired back that Dobson was repeatedly lying about his record.

“We don’t need to send a retired career politician,” Dobson said in her opening statement. “If you send me, I’ll stand tall with President Trump against the left.”

Brewmaker said, “everything she has ever said about my record” has been a distortion. “As a car dealer, believe me, I know a lot more about the effect of regulation on small business than a lawyer from Texas.”

Dobson, who was raised in Monroe County, lived and practiced law in Texas before joining the Maynard Nexsen law firm in 2019.

The Democratic nominee will be decided in an April 16 runoff between Shomari Figures and state Rep. Anthony Daniels.

Democrats aim to flip the once reliably GOP congressional seat in the Deep South. Republicans are seeking to hold the seat with control of the U.S. House of Representatives at stake.

The 2nd District was redrawn last fall by a federal court to boost the percentage of Black voters after judges ruled the state’s previous map likely violated the Voting Rights Act.

Dobson and Brewbaker expressed similar views on supporting tax cuts, opposing gun control measures, border security, reducing government spending and increasing U.S. energy production. They also touted a number of hot-button GOP issues such as restrictions for transgender athletes.

Dobson attacked Brewbaker on some of his legislative votes, and Brewbaker fired back that she was misrepresenting his record.

“My opponent voted for the largest tax increase in Alabama history. I have shown that I will fight taxes tooth and nail,” Dobson said.

Brewbaker said that was “another lie from my opponent.”

“All of the votes that she calls me raising taxes, was me putting local initiatives on the ballot so Alabamians could vote on it, which is the way democracy is supposed to work,” Brewbaker said.

Brewbaker said he had a proven record in Montgomery that included allowing charter schools and other school choice options and getting legislation approved that required insurance companies to cover autism therapy.

“We need someone who understands how the system works and has proven he can stop legislation that makes government bigger while at the same time making a smaller government more responsive to the needs of its citizens,” Brewbaker said.

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Brewbaker led in the March primary, capturing 37% of the vote to Dobson’s 24.76%. A primary runoff is required when no candidate captures more than 50% of the primary vote.

The congressional debate was sponsored by WSFA and WALA. The two stations are also airing a debate Tuesday night between Figures and Daniels.

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