The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

March 11, 2012

Brooks, Griffith to square off Tuesday

By Adam Smith

— Congressman Mo Brooks and Dr. Parker Griffith are two very different candidates, but both say they want what’s best for those in Alabama’s fifth congressional district.

Brooks and Griffith will face off Tuesday in what’s been widely considered a rematch of the 2010 primary. Griffith, a former Democrat, switched parties in 2009 and was beaten by Brooks, who won the general election in November.

The winner of Tuesday’s primary will face Democratic challenger and Limestone County native Charlie L. Holley in the Nov. 6 general election.

Congressman Mo Brooks

Brooks said Friday the overall theme of his campaign would be, “Promises made and promises kept.” He said he promised he would work to protect NASA and defense jobs when he was elected. Since then, he’s served on the Space, Science and Technology committee and the Armed Services committee.

“I worked hard to get on those committees and was well-positioned to represent and protect 30,000-plus Tennessee Valley jobs that originate with the Redstone Arsenal,” he said.

He said he promised to do his best to balance the budget and prevent American insolvency and bankruptcy. He said he helped lead an effort to force a vote on a balanced budget constitutional amendment, which he voted for.

“I voted against raising the debt ceiling $2 trillion when the bill did little or nothing to cut spending and balance the budget,” he said. “I voted against borrowing $100 billion that was pandering to voters and making them think it was a tax cut, when it was a loan that would have to be paid back.”

Brooks said he had also done his best to promote free enterprise and reduce federal government regulations. His efforts, he said, helped earn him the U.S. Business and Industry Council’s “Fighting Freshman of the Year” award.

“If elected to Congress, I commit to the people of the Tennessee Valley that I’ll do everything I can to promote America and defend her from policies that are counterproductive and undermine the principles that make us a great nation,” he said.

Dr. Parker Griffith

Griffith said Athens and Limestone County are a pivotal part of the economy in North Alabama and he pledged to help foster that environment as a congressman. He said he has been a job creator over the past 35 years and has been involved in businesses in the area.

“I’ve been an investor and I continue to pay property taxes in Limestone County. I know it very well and I know its potential,” he said. “I believe the citizens of Limestone need someone in Washington who can develop relationships with all members of Congress. We have to protect defense, space and recruiting nationally and internationally.”

Though he didn’t name any specific incidents by Brooks, Griffith said comments made by an official no longer take weeks or months to travel to foreign countries. He said North Alabama cannot afford a congressman who shows “we are intolerant, hateful or unwelcoming.”

“I am someone who is interested in creating jobs and forming relationships in Congress,” he said. “When we talk about the space program, we’ll need the help of those in Texas, Florida, Ohio and other areas. We’ve got to be aware that we can justify making a friend, but we can’t justify making enemies in Congress.”

Griffith, who founded the Huntsville Cancer Treatment Center in 1986, retired from medicine in 1992. He said improved medical facilities and a four-year medical school could help provide jobs in North Alabama for years to come. His medical experience, he said, could also help the state wade through a looming Medicaid crisis.

“We are the only place in Alabama that does not have a four-year medical school and that would be something I am well-suited to bring to the area,” he said. “As we go through the changes in the Affordable Care Act, my expertise will be important to this district.”