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.
The Alabama Secretary of State’s office certified last week that Mark Bray, an aerospace engineer from Huntsville, has gathered enough signatures to run as an independent candidate for the 5th Congressional District seat.
To get on the November 4 ballot, Bray was required to collect 6,886 signatures from current registered voters in the congressional district. He said he ended up with 7,763 signers following a three-month petition drive.
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.
“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, with increased focus on technology, innovation, and NASA exploration.
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.
“Guess what — it’s time to do the hard work, roll up our sleeves, sit down for nine 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,” Bray added.