Former State Sen. Paul Sanford (R-Huntsville) spoke to the Shoals Republican Club on Saturday about his campaign for Alabama’s Fifth Congressional District.

“About 14 years ago I was a small business owner frustrated with the amount of overregulation I faced,” Sanford said. “The government has far too much control over my success or failure as a small businessman.”

Sanford was the owner/operator of Little Paul’s Barbecue in Huntsville from 2002 to 2018.

Sanford, whose family has been in the restaurant business in Alabama since 1925, decided that voting and being active in his local political scene were not enough for him to have any influence in the political process and decided to run for State Senate in 2010.

“If government will just leave me alone, I would do the right thing for my family and my business,” Sanford said. “I was tired of settling for the lesser of two evils when I voted on the ballot.”

Sanford said that he was an “angry businessman” who wanted “to get government out of my business, so I could do what I do best.”

“Today I feel a lot of the same emotions,” Sanford told nearly 100 Shoals Republicans. “I am concerned about the direction of this nation. I don’t think America looks like the America I grew up in...There was no Critical Race Theory taught in schools then,” Sanford said.

Sanford said it is time to put America first.

“If we don’t put American first, who is? It's not going to be China, it's not going to be Russia,” Sanford said. “If we don’t take control of our schools, who will? Washington? Is that fair for our children? If we don’t address the supply chain issue, who will?”

Sanford expressed concerns about federal spending and the growing national debt.

“They have a lot of money but are they spending it wisely?” Sanford said. “We have got to decide what our future is going to be.

With inflation being at a 30-year high, Sanford said it is time to get the country back on track.

“They can’t take your money away by raising taxes so they are taking it away with rising prices," Sanford said. “...I don’t want to say, 'make American great again.' America is already great, but we need to get America on track again. You can’t pay people’s rent and pay them to stay home and then complain that we don’t have enough people working.”

Sanford said he is a Christian first, a husband second, a father third and a patriot fourth.

“We need to do better,” Sanford said. “Given my 9 and a half years in government as a state Senator and my decades of experience as a small businessman, I believe I am the most qualified candidate to represent you in Congress...I will do anything to make sure that Nancy Pelosi gives up that gavel next January."

When asked by a member of the audience if he supported term limits, Sanford said, “I am a walking example of term limits. When I ran I told people that I would run for only two full terms in the Senate and that is what I did. People were upset and mad at me for leaving. I always kept them informed on what was going on and I always explained how I voted.”

Sanford said that he is “opposed to federal mandates” on the COVID-19 vaccine and he himself is not vaccinated.

“My family has a history of some heart issues and strokes,” Sanford said. “My doctor said that [I am] healthy and work out and given my family history with those other things he would not risk it. If I can’t make the best decision for my healthcare, who is? The federal government? I don’t think that’s right. If I worked for a federal contractor right now I would be facing possible unemployment right now.”

Another issue, voter fraud, is something Sanford talked about. He said Georgia and Pennsylvania broke their own laws and that he doesn't understand why the federal courts didn't move in,

“You can’t go to a bank and cash a check if you don’t have an I.D. [photo identification],” Sanford said. “Why should you be allowed to make the biggest decision most of us will ever make without showing an ID?

“They [the U.S. Supreme Court] either did not believe the argument or they did not believe it is their job and if they did not believe it is their job they need to step down because it absolutely is their job."

The Shoals Republican Club typically meets on the first Saturday of each month in the historic Stricklin Hotel in downtown Florence near the campus of the University of North Alabama. Their next meeting is on Feb. 5.

Incumbent Congressman Mo Brooks (R) is not seeking re-election, as he is running for the U.S. Senate.

Sanford still faces a crowded Republican primary field that includes: Harrison Wright, Dale Strong, Casey Wardynski, John Robets, and Andy Blalock.

The major party primaries will be held on May 24.

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