With less than a week before the midterm election on Tuesday, 3rd U.S. Congressional District incumbent Mike Rogers, Republican, and Democrat Mallory Hagan are both working hard to get voters to the polls.
Rogers said he has been able to campaign full-time since early October, visiting different parts of the district, which includes Lee and 12 other counties.
Hagan is dedicating a fair amount of time in the last week to investigating the district's list of voters deemed inactive by the Secretary of State's office. She said the list of inactive voters in the 3rd District includes more than 60,000 names.
"What we're seeing across the country is definitely happening here in Alabama, and it seems there is an attack on voting rights, but I wish that wasn't so because it is our most basic and fundamental right," she said.
Hagan, an Opelika native, told The Villager in May that she was running to bring more diversity to Congress, and this week, she spoke about making change for the "greater good," especially in regards to health care. She supports the expansion of Medicaid and has said she supports moving toward a single-payer system.
"What we’re looking at right now is pre-existing conditions being on the line, and that impacts every single family," she said. "I think we need to be electing people who are looking at the greater good and looking at what’s best for the most amount of people, not only in our district and our state but across the country as well."
On the issue of health care, Rogers, who was first elected to the U.S. Congress in 2002, said he would "completely oppose" single-payer health insurance. His priorities if re-elected would include working to make the tax cuts for individuals — passed in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 — permanent and continuing to lead the effort of the Space Force. Rogers chairs the Strategic Forces Subcommittee of the Armed Services Committee.
"We started the process of standing up the sixth military service, called the Space Force," he said. "Since that will be the first new military service we’ve had in 70 years, since the Air Force was created, I’m really excited to be leading that effort."
He said he is proud of the two-year budget increase for the U.S. Department of Defense that was recently passed as well as a bill that puts Auburn in partnership with other institutions to develop a national breeding program for detection dogs.
"We want (Auburn) to lead the effort on helping us come up with a way to breed more of these super dogs here in the U.S. so that we can meet our needs to detect bad guys, terrorists, who are trying to do us harm."
Aside from prioritizing better access to health care, Hagan said she would work on campaign finance reform and overturning the Citizens United decision — a ruling that protected the right of corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts of money on political activities.
"What I hope that voters are doing over the next several days is following the money," she said. "There's usually a reason our elected officials are making decisions and it's quite often not about us at all."
Hagan said she would also focus on ways to promote equality.
"Our state is really segregated and we need leaders who are willing to step up and have some conversations and figure out what we need to do in order to better communicate and better live with our neighbors," she said. "That extends past race relations to the LGBTQ community and also to women's rights."
If elected, Hagan said she intends to have a strong presence in the district and plans to create a public schedule on day one for "district days," which would include town halls.
She criticized Rogers for not being accessible to citizens, a complaint she said she has heard from many in the district.
"The number one complaint I hear about Congressman Rogers is that he's not accessible, and that hasn't changed," she said. "I’ve been all over the district. I’ve listened to all types of people, whether they agree with me or don’t agree with me, and that’s what representation is about."
Rogers said Hagan has fabricated the complaint.
"She doesn’t have command over the subject matter and is not able to talk about the federal issues that we deal with, so she just makes up stuff about me not coming home," he said. "I work three weeks out of every month in Washington, (D.C.). So you’re not going to see me those three weeks, but we have one week a month where we’re back home, and I move around the district on a regular basis during that one week."
Rogers encouraged voters to keep him in office, saying he is hitting the "peak of my seniority and power" in Congress.
"The district has invested a lot of time and energy and commitment in allowing me to go to Washington and develop expertise and experience and seniority in an institution where seniority and power are synonymous," he said, adding that he feels he is close to getting chairmanships he has been working toward.
Hagan said she hopes voters focus on what each candidate offers more than which party they affiliate with.
"This is an election to focus on people. What type of person is running for office?" she said. "Our political system has turned into a football game, and there are winners and losers and that’s it. That’s not what politics and policy is about. It's about coming together, listening and compromising on issues so that we get the best for the greater good."
To reach Hagan and learn more about her stance on certain issues, visit haganforhouse.com.