Senatorial candidate Mike Durant was the first to speak at a meet and greet Thursday at the Superior Grill in Birmingham.

Durant is running for the seat of U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, who will be retiring at the end of his term, a position he has held for over 30 years.

During his talk, Durant touched on various topics, including military strength, immigration, energy independence, and his own career. He also criticized the Biden Administration and career politicians.

Top three priorities

“I’m not a politician,” Durant said.

Durant said his top three priorities include building a southern border wall, becoming energy independent and creating a strong military.

“[Building a border wall] is an easy thing to get done, and Joe Biden and his administration decided to stop it,” Durant said.

Durant said building the border wall will be achievable with a Republican majority in November and that it will “drastically reduce” the problems border states are having with illegal immigration.

Regarding energy, Durant said, “All we have to do is use what we already have.” He said the Biden administration made us dependent on our enemies. “That doesn’t make any sense. That’s illogical.” 

Durant specifically criticized Biden for relying on Iran and Venezuela but “alienating Saudi Arabians.”

“We are absolutely going down every possible wrong path with regards to energy independence,” Durant said.

Durant said his military experience has made him passionate about taking care of the country’s military veterans. “If we don’t treat veterans right, we’re going to stop getting the quality people we have in our military today.

“...We have to have a strong military to have credibility,” Durant said. “Right now, we have a strong military, but it’s barely hanging on… No one respects us, but they should respect us because we still have the greatest military in the world.”

Durant also said a strong military is essential for not just the United States but for Alabama. He stressed the economic impact of the military in the state, especially surrounding places like the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville.

Other points

Durant addressed the issue of election integrity by insisting that a voter identification requirement is necessary to protect American elections. “Why that is not a universal rule is beyond me.”

Durant also responded to the controversy surrounding a speech he gave in 2011, which has received criticism for some remarks about disarming the population. He said his comment was mischaracterized. “Now it’s turned into the biggest thing that my opponents can throw at me… I’m absolutely pro-Second Amendment… I have no interest in taking away anybody’s right to bear arms.

“...I see this as one more tour,” Durant said. “I see this as an opportunity to serve… I want to do it because I think I can make a difference, and I have great experience.”

Durant is a businessman, author and former member of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. He is known for his role in the “Black Hawk Down” incident when his helicopter was shot down during the Battle of Mogadishu in 1993. Hostile Somali forces captured Durant and held him captive for 11 days.

For his service, Durant has received a Distinguished Service Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star with Valor Device, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, three Air Medals, the Prisoner of War Medal and other awards. 

In 2003, he published a book, “In the Company of Heroes,” in which he wrote about his captivity. In 2008, he became owner, president and CEO of an engineering services company, Pinnacle Solutions, based in Huntsville. 

Alabama Senate candidate Brian Christine, Alabama House candidate Susan DuBose and Shelby County School Board of Education candidates Amber Polk and Brian Boatman also spoke as attendees enjoyed classic Mexican food, salsa and queso.

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