HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Independent candidates have always had a hard time gaining traction in Alabama. But one North Alabama candidate is hoping to change the tide.
"While the parties have been running their primary I've been out with my campaign team gathering signatures."
Engineer Mark Bray gathered 7,022 signatures to be exact, with three days worth of petitions not even accounted for. He exceeded his goal of the necessary 6,886 signatures to qualify as an independent candidate in the race for the 5th Congressional District.
He has to file the petitions by June 3rd.
"I just felt like the thing people are crying out for is someone who represents the district," said Bray. "The entire district not just the party that voted him into office."
Bray said that's why he took on the task to go door-to-door and set up booths at events with hope the people of the Tennessee Valley would get on board.
"It's not about me winning more seats for my party, it`s about serving my district serving the people here and bringing good ideas that other people could vote for," said Bray. "Maybe it`s being naïve but I think it could work."
Democrats and Republicans have had a stronghold on congress for decades, with only a handful of seats held by independent candidates. But Bray hopes to ride in on a surge of independent candidacies across the nation.
When he first announced his run in February, there were only five announced independents running for a federal office. Now there are more than 90 independent candidates running for seats in the U.S. House and Senate.
Bray has reached out to about 16 of those independent candidates, to discuss what they could accomplish if they make it to Washington.
Part of Bray's platform incorporates his background as an engineer. Increased focus on technology, innovation, and NASA exploration.
"I think there's something going on here that this district, specifically Huntsville and Madison, can play a part of," said Bray. "There's going to be a real commercial space industry, and I think the biomedical microgravity research that's going to happen will be a part of that. If we play our cards right and lead, it's a boon to this district, a boon to this country, and a boon to U.S. manufacturing again."
When it comes to education, and health reform, he thinks both sides of the aisle have good ideas, and he wants to incorporate them both, picking apart the good from the bad.
"I'm not going to lie to anybody, I'm not going to run with a single line saying 'vote for me and I'll repeal Obamacare.' I can't. It's politically undoable as long as this president's there, and he'll be there for at least two more years, so let's be real," said Bray.
He goes on, "Guess what it's time to do the hard work, roll up our sleeves, sit down for 9 months and go through each part of the Affordable Care Act and pick apart the parts that are working and the parts that aren't working, see if we can improve them."
He says it would be a painful debate, but one politicians and voters need to have as a country.