More than a 'run for the fun of it' candidate

James Phillips
Posted 5/24/17

Qualifying to run for the open U.S. Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions ended last week, with a crowded field of candidates throwing their names in the hat.

The primary will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 15. Any runoff, which is probably with 11 …

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More than a 'run for the fun of it' candidate

Posted

Qualifying to run for the open U.S. Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions ended last week, with a crowded field of candidates throwing their names in the hat.

The primary will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 15. Any runoff, which is probably with 11 people running on the Republican side and eight running as Democrats, will be on Sept. 26. The General Election will be Dec. 12.

Earlier this week, Steve Flowers, a former state legislator and weekly DME columnist, opined there were only about five viable candidates in the field, calling the other contenders “run for the fun of it” candidates.

A couple of weeks ago, I was first introduced to one of those “run for the fun of it” guys through a mutual friend. Bryan Peeples is a Birmingham-based businessman who runs a consulting firm representing small- and medium-sized businesses in the entertainment, food and hospitality sector. Peeples, a Republican, is the youngest candidate to qualify in either party at only 37.

After initially connecting on social media, I asked Peeples if we could have a short phone conversation about his candidacy. I wanted to find out why someone would run for the fun of it.

While Peeples relishes the dark horse or underdog role in the election, he was quick to point out that he was in no way running just for the sake of running for office.

“This is my first time running for political office, but that does not make me ignorant to the environment,” Peeples said during our conversation Tuesday afternoon. “Congress has a terrible approval rating right now. We keep saying that we want change, but we keep electing the same people over and over. Nothing is going to change if we continue with what we are doing.”

Electing the same people continuously is such an issue for Peeples that he has promised to serve a maximum of two terms if elected.

“I want term limits for Congress,” he sad. “It will be a tall task, but I believe our political climate is at a point where term limits could happen. The average age in the U.S. Senate is 64. That’s not a representation of all our citizens. We have two generations now who are not being represented.”

In the early days of his campaign, Peeples said he has spent many hours speaking one-on-one with voters. He said the voices of everyday people are important to him.

“We can change the course of Washington, D.C. This election is about hope, optimism and voices being heard,” he said. “We cannot continue down the same path. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. My goal is to put the people first again, letting the voices of all Alabamians be heard rather than those of the few.”

Peeples is a native of Auburn and has lived in Birmingham since 1995. On his website, www.bryanpeeples.com, he has even signed a contract of public service as a vow to the citizens of Alabama.

“I have a passion to be a public servant,” he said. “I have always wanted to serve others. I would love to serve the people of our state in the Senate.”

While I’m not ready to endorse any particular candidate, I appreciate Bryan taking a few minutes to speak about why he wanted to seek the Senate spot. After our conversation, I definitely do not believe he is running for the fun of it. I think he has a plan and a purpose for his campaign, and he would bring fresh ideas and a fresh perspective to the Alabama delegation in Washington.

The favorites in the Senate race include Roy Moore, Luther Strange and Mo Brooks.

I was in Montgomery on the day Moore made the announcement he was going to seek election to the office. I had hoped it was an announcement that he was going home to never be heard from again, but alas, he is running for office again.

Strange seemed to be a popular attorney general, but the Bentley scandal has tarnished his reputation.

Brooks is the current U.S. congressman from north Alabama, but he can be just about as likeable as a strong toothache.

While that trio is going to have the most funding for the campaign, each have their detractors, even within their own party. State Sen. Trip Pittman and Dr. Randy Brinson are also just outside the favorites in the GOP race for the seat. Pittman was the lone vote against the autism bill, so I have already shared my personal thoughts on where he would stand as far as my vote. Brinson is the president of the Alabama Christian Coalition and will likely take a few votes away from Moore.

Other Republicans in the race include underdog candidates such as Peeples, James Paul Baretta, Karen Jackson, Mary Maxwell, Dom Gentile and Joseph Breault. It would be fun to see one of those lesser known candidates pick up some steam heading into the August primary.

The eight Democrats running for the office may be the true dark horse candidates in Alabama due to the GOP’s stronghold on politics in the state. Those candidates include Michael Hansen, Doug Jones, Robert Kennedy Jr., Jason Fisher, Will Boyd, Vann Caldwell, Brian McGee and Nana Tchienkou. Jones would have to be considered the favorite. He is a former U.S. attorney who has been practicing privately. He is best known for prosecuting Ku Klux Klan members for the 1963 Birmingham church bombing that killed four little girls.

James Phillips is editor and publisher of the Daily Mountain Eagle. He may be reached at 205-221-2840 or james.phillips@mountaineagle.com.