Alabama’s U.S. 5th Congressional District seat is up for grabs, and old and new faces are in the running. 

Current representative Mo Brooks is running for United States Senate, and eight candidates – six Republicans and two Democrats - are seeking to replace him.

On the Republican side, the candidates include Andrew Blalock, John Roberts, Paul Sanford, Dale Strong, Casey Wardynski and Harrison Wright. Democrats Charlie Thompson and Kathy Warner-Stanton are running in the Democrat primary.

As the May 24th primary gets closer, 1819 News will be profiling candidates for the 5th Congressional seat.

Huntsville native Paul Sanford is very proud of his deep Alabama roots. “My family came to Alabama in the early 1800s before it had even become a state," said Sanford. "Although our family dates back to the early 1800s, my family's well-known service to North Alabama took off in 1925 with some barbecue and sauce. In 1925, my great grandfather, 'Big Bob [Gibson]' started serving barbecue from a makeshift table made of oak planks nailed to a sycamore tree in his backyard in Morgan County…My mother and uncle eventually moved to Huntsville, where I was born, to open Gibson’s Bar-B-Q. My father shaped my values and work ethic more than anyone in my life."

As an enthusiastic hunter and a defender of gun ownership rights, Sanford outlined some of his important personal concerns that he feels are shared by voters in the Fifth Congressional District. “Between the rampant inflation, the erosion of our liberties and freedoms and the misguided leadership in the White House, we need a proven conservative fighter that will defend our values and the Constitution. Families are hurting right now. We need to get inflation in check and end our dependence on foreign energy sources. Additionally, one of my number one priorities will be to protect the constitutional responsibilities centered around Redstone Arsenal and its operating budgets. My other priorities would be working towards a balanced federal budget and closing the open border policy currently enacted."

Elected to the Alabama Senate, District 7, in 2009, Sanford served on 14 Alabama Senate committees and sponsored or co-sponsored numerous bills before declining to run for reelection in 2018. Sanford points to his combination of both business and political experience as the thing that makes him uniquely qualified to replace outgoing incumbent Mo Brooks as the Congressional Representative for North Alabama’s Fifth Congressional District. Sanford said, “The two things that separate me [from the other candidates] are that I am a career businessman. That’s what I’ve been doing all of my life, managing businesses, managing people, and having to make quick, decisive decisions that not only impact myself, my business, but my employees and my community. And then second, I think my legislative experience, the time that I spent in the Alabama Senate, the nine and a half years that I was there…I’ve had to work side-by-side with those Type-A personalities that are seeking power, fame, influence, notoriety, and have had to deal with them on a regular basis. The names and the faces are different in Washington, D.C., but the personalities and how you deal with them are still the same. I got really good [at] dealing with them in Montgomery.” 

Sanford studied at the University of North Alabama, Auburn University, and the Culinary Institute of America. He left the state to work for a high-end restaurant chain before eventually deciding to return to Alabama and open his own restaurant, Huntsville’s Little Paul’s Barbecue restaurant, in 2002.

 “Serving people in some capacity has always been a part of my life. While working with my parents as a young teenager, I realized it was both rewarding and a privilege to serve others in our community. That passion for serving others has equipped me with the ability to listen to the concerns of others and translate that information into solutions,” Sanford said.

 It’s his business experience that Sanford says prepared him for dealing with the “behind closed doors and secret meetings” realities of the Alabama legislature. Likewise, Sanford explains that his Senate experience has prepared him for the transition to Washington politics: “While serving in the Alabama Senate, my leadership skills helped me to become effective in leading the way on many conservative issues like reducing government regulations and balancing the budgets without increasing taxes. My time serving in the Alabama Senate was a solid training ground for Congress and dealing with the personalities in Washington, DC.”

Sanford is a supporter of term limits, and he says his career path has made him more qualified than most to hit the ground running inside the U.S. Capitol. “Our country is at a crossroads. We don’t need career politicians, nor do we need those that have never produced results. We need a proven leader that can be effective from day one. I am the only small business owner in the race who also has written, amended, killed and passed legislation. We don’t have any time to waste with on-the-job training.”

Sanford has been married to his wife Danielle for 27 years, and together they raised two children. 

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