Nine US Senate candidates share their thoughts and ideas in Huntsville

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Thursday night, nine candidates for the state's U.S. Senate seat gathered in Huntsville to share why they deserve your vote.

It's not uncommon for the faithful to be found in seats at the Rock Church. Instead of one flock, there were supporters for the different candidates, all wanting to become Alabama's next senator.

Early on, focus centered around the most notable absence of the evening - Senator Luther Strange.

"We have a special election because of ethical issues. There is an ethical cloud over the appointment process such that Gov. Ivey accelerated the election to August 18th as opposed to 2018," says Rep. Mo Brooks, District 5 Republican Congressman and Senate candidate.

Senator Luther Strange's campaign surrogates tell WHNT News 19, he was unable to attend because of the event with the EPA Director earlier in the day, on the other side of the state.

Some of the most passionate debate came from questions on how Alabama deals with the growing opiate crisis.

“Yes we do have an issue, yes we do have a problem," says Will Boyd, a Democratic candidate.

"You teach them of God, you teach them about love for their-self and love for each other," says former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore.

State Senator Trip Pittman recalled an experience from his own life - surviving a plane crash - and weaning himself off of powerful medication.

"In order to stop this problem we’ve got to have a resurgence of responsibility. I mean we have to require for people to try and to take care of themselves and manage themselves," says Pittman.

The biggest fireworks came when a member of the Alabama chapter of "Indivisible" asked candidates to pledge to hold town hall meetings.

“Part of the resistant indivisible elements have interjected themselves and disrupted town halls often committing felony against Congressman and constituents that attend those town halls," says Rep. Brooks.

Congressman Brooks says while he won't hold open town halls, he will still meet with constituents and would continue to do so if elected Senator.

“I will try to to the best I can in the 67 counties of Alabama as the opportunity arises and as time permits," he told the crowd.

Democrat Brian McGee struck back at Brooks.

"Right now, people are upset and they want to let you know it," he said, as the crowd cheered.

Every other candidate on stage pledged to hold town hall meetings, if they come Senator.

"Whenever we’re not in session I’m going to be down here, I’m going to be fighting for you," says Bryan Peeples, a Republican candidate.

Only time will tell if there were any conversions of the political faithful.

The organizers of the forum held a straw poll following the forum. Here are the results:

Republicans

  1. Rep. Mo Brooks - 101 votes
  2. Former Justice Roy Moore - 74 votes
  3. State Sen. Trip Pittman - 8 votes
  4. Randy Brinson - 6 votes
  5. Bryan Peeples - 5 votes
  6. Mary Maxwell - 3 votes
  7. Sen. Luther Strange - 3 votes

Democrats

  1. Brian McGee - 19 votes
  2. Will Boyd - 12 votes
  3. Doug Jones - 5 votes
  4. Michael Hansen - 2 votes
  5. Vann Caldwell - 1 vote
  6. Jason Fisher - 1 vote