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Daniels on Congressional run: ‘Community over chaos’

Name: Anthony Daniels
Party: Democrat
City of residence: Huntsville
Age: 41
Occupation: State legislator, small business owner, former elementary school teacher
Previous elected offices or applicable experience: In his third term in the Alabama House of Representatives where he is Minority Leader; previously elected chairman of the National Education Association Student Program
Education: Bachelor’s and Master’s from Alabama A&M University
Why should district residents vote for you on March 5: “As Minority Leader, you touch the entire state. Your main job is supporting members and getting resources for their districts while also running the campaign arm for the caucus. I’ve been effective in a super minority and Congress is much closer than a super minority. I want to take what I’ve learned from these experiences to build coalitions to get things done.”

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels says voters in the state’s Second Congressional district shouldn’t judge him or other candidates by what they say they’ll do. 

Judge him by what he’s done, Daniels told Alabama Daily News.

“I’m someone who’s demonstrated his ability to be impactful,” he said about why he’s running for Congress. “ I think when people are running for office to make history and not make a difference, that does nothing for the state.” 

A lawmaker since 2014 and minority leader since 2017, Daniels touts his ability to find common ground among his colleagues and pass meaningful legislation in the State House, even as a far-outnumbered Democrat. 

In the 2023 session, Daniels successfully pitched a proposal to take the state’s 5% income tax off of Alabama workers’ overtime pay. The tax cut goes into effect Monday. It will end in mid-2025 unless renewed by lawmakers.

“One of the things that I’d like to do is take that same strategy and same piece of legislation and look at the numbers to reduce the tax burden for workers (on their federal taxes),” he said. 

In the upcoming state legislative session, Daniels will sponsor a bill to give employers a tax credit if they supply or help workers pay for child care. It’s pro-business and pro-employee, said Daniels, a small business owner and father with young children.

Like he did with the overtime bill, he’s currently letting “people poke holes in it, so that whatever comes out is solid.”

His strategy would be the same in Congress.

“… I will continue to look at pro-growth policies that impact the district but work in collaboration with the delegation,” he said. “I’m a delegation guy. We can put politics aside, working on behalf of our state. And that’s no different than what I would do if I went to Washington.” 

As redrawn by the federal court, the district now has a Black voting age population of 48.3%, which leads most political experts to predict the district to lean Democratic in November.  

In the State House, most of the bills Daniels has passed have had a Republican Senate sponsor.

“That’s what people want,” he said. “Community over chaos.”

Daniels will be one of a 11 Democrats on the March 5 ballot vying for the newly drawn district that includes part of Mobile, all of Montgomery County and goes west to the Georgia line.

Daniels said he decided to run when evaluating other potential candidates and looking for one “who would be ready on day one.” 

He lives in Huntsville now, but in a television ad that began airing in November, Daniels shows his Bullock County roots. So far, the Democrat frontrunners in the race either live outside it, some closer than others, or recently moved into it. If elected, he said he would establish residency in District 2 and bring with him what he’s learned in Huntsville.

“Who’s better prepared to address issues that impact rural communities than someone who’s actually from a rural community, who grew up in a rural community, who’s continued to stay engaged in rural communities but represents an urban community that is doing fairly well,” he said. 

Early in his career, Daniels was an elementary school teacher who taught in a magnet school, a Title I school and on a reservation. He has previous D.C. experience as chairman of the National Education Association student program, working with the Bush administration on the College Cost and Reduction Act of 2007.

“From an experience standpoint, there’s no one – you name a candidate that’s better prepared than me,” he said. “From a legislative standpoint and actually understanding that this is a legislative body, you’re going from one legislative body to the other.”

District 2 is heavily rural with several military installations just outside of it, including Fort Novesel, formerly Fort Rucker, in Dale County and Fort Benning just across the Georgia line. He said there’s a blueprint for success that’s worked for Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville that could be applied in south Alabama with some targeted federal spending.

“(We can take) the model that was used at Redstone Arsenal, engaging communities that are in proximity so that you’re expanding the economic opportunity,” he said. 

One of Daniels’ campaign taglines is “one of us for all of us.”

In Montgomery, he’s gone to bat for south Alabama at times, including a fight nearly a decade ago over how settlement money from the BP oil spill should be spent. He sided with lawmakers for the Mobile area. 

The former teacher has pushed for more funding for early childhood education access statewide.

He said he has also lobbied in recent years to direct funding to sewer projects in the Black Belt. 

Infrastructure continues to be a need in the district, he said. As is access to health care and hospitals. 

“I understand my colleagues in rural areas because I’ve been there, I lived there, was raised there and I still engage there,” he said. “I understand my colleagues in urban areas because I represent one now.” 

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