Coleman, Moore field tough questions, make final cases to voters during AL-02 debate
Both candidates seeking the Republican nomination in Alabama’s Second Congressional District took the stage Tuesday night for a debate in which they defended themselves from pointed questions about inglorious incidents in their past and made their case to voters with six days until the election.
Dothan businessman Jeff Coleman and former State Representative Barry Moore (R-Enterprise) faced each other in the only debate of the Republican primary runoff.
The two men hope to gain the Republican Party’s nomination in the race to succeed U.S. Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery), who chose not to seek reelection. The Second Congressional District is comprised of much of the Montgomery area and the Wiregrass region in the southeast corner of the state.
The entire debate can be watched here.
Moore was asked by moderator Reginald Jones of WTVY in Dothan about public records that show he did not vote in the 2016 primary.
The issue has become a line of attack against Moore, who has made his early support for then-candidate Donald Trump a centerpiece of his campaign.
“On March 1, 2016, I was in the legislature in Montgomery, Alabama, voting my district,” responded Moore with respect to the 2016 primary election day.
“It was more important to me to vote for my 46,000 constituents than leave the session early and come home to vote,” added the former state representative.
Coleman was pushed by the moderator on his donations to the campaign of U.S. Representative Neil Abercrombie, a Democrat from Hawaii.
“I’m a businessman, just like President Trump,” responded Coleman.
He added, “I know how to play the game.”
The moderator also pushed the Dothan businessman on the civil suit filed by the Department of Justice that alleged fraudulent behavior by Coleman’s moving company.
Coleman called the suit “a despicable political ploy” that was being used as a “nasty negative attack against me.”
“We made a business decision to settle it. Our company has done business with the United States military for over 70 years,” pointed out Coleman.
“We continue to do that today. That says a lot about our company,” added Coleman as evidence that the lawsuit was overblown.
Moore got a question on his decision to welcome the support of the Club for Growth, a Washington, D.C.-based group that has a super PAC which has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars supporting his candidacy.
The Club for Growth has many defenders in the Republican Party and is a strong proponent of candidates like U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX). The group also has many conservative detractors who believe it is anti-farmer and point out the organization spent millions opposing Donald Trump in the 2016 primary.
“I’m happy to have their support,” said Moore of the Club, arguing the group “came around” on President Trump and is supporting the president in 2020.
The candidates were mostly in lockstep with regard to the other issues raised in the debate.
Both men made the case for their conservative credentials, going out of their way to mention agriculture and military issues that play a large role in their largely rural district which has two important military bases.
Moore and Coleman both oppose removing monuments to Confederate leaders, and they also both support privatizing the postal service if possible.
Trump is enormously popular with Republicans in the heavily conservative AL-02.
Moore attempted to tie himself to the president through his early 2015 support for then-candidate Trump.
Coleman tried to cast himself, a businessman who has not previously run for office, as similar to the president.
The winner of next Tuesday’s primary runoff will face Democratic nominee Phyllis Harvey-Hall in November’s general election.