By MADDISON BOOTH, Alabama Daily News
AUBURN, Ala. – When asked her motivation for campaigning to be Alabama’s next United States Senator, Katie Britt doesn’t hesitate. “It’s my children,” she said.
Her daughter Bennett is 13 years old, and her son Ridgeway is 12.
Despite serving as U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby’s press secretary, a member of his campaign team and eventually his chief of staff, Britt did not immediately jump at the opportunity when Shelby announced his retirement last year. At the time of Shelby’s announcement, Britt was serving as president and CEO of the Business Council of Alabama, which serves as sort of a chamber of commerce for the state and is among the most powerful advocacy groups.
A lawyer, a politico and now an executive, Britt had no shortage of opportunities. And the race for a rare open Senate seat promised to be crowded and brutal.
Britt says she and her husband, Wesley, prayed repeatedly about the decision and came to the same conclusion.
“We believe that if our generation and the next generation doesn’t step up and fight…there’s not going to be anything left for my children to fight for,” she said in an interview with Alabama Daily News.
So she placed her name on the ballot and began cultivating the list of changes she’d like to see made on Capitol Hill. One of the issues Britt is especially passionate about fighting for is seeing former President Donald Trump’s plan to build the wall along the Mexican border completed.
Britt called the nation’s immigration crisis a “humanitarian crisis” as well, referencing the amount of human trafficking and fentanyl smuggling that occurs on the Mexican border.
“We have got to make this a top priority. Enough is enough,” she said.
Having been involved in the inner workings of the Senate with Shelby, who once chaired the Appropriations Committee and remains the top ranking Republican, Britt already has a number of items on her to-do list if she were to be chosen to the seat. Working in the Senate gave her a “front row seat” to witness not only how the Senate operates, but also to deep dive into the issues that are at the forefront of American politics right now.
“There will be no learning curve. I will be able to hit the ground running,” Britt said.
She maintains respect for Shelby and gratitude for the opportunities he gave her, but said she is her own person with her own thoughts and opinions. Specifically, she would like to co-sponsor Rep. Bill Hagerty’s, R-TN, PROTECT Electoral College Act, one she thinks will help restore public faith in the nation’s election system.
Britt said that if Americans don’t believe that their vote truly counts in an election, “that will ultimately be a crack in our democracy that causes it to crumble.”
Pursuing the road toward energy independence by building the Keystone Pipeline and working to balance the country’s budget in response to the debt crisis are two other pathways Britt sees to making the United States a better place for the next generation.
With both of her children in middle school, Britt has no shortage of thoughts when it comes to the state’s education system either. She supports doing away with the federal department of education and wants to see Alabama schools make their own decisions about how to teach.
“We want to make sure that our children are taught to love this country and are taught that every child has an opportunity for success, and you’ve got to work hard to achieve that,” Britt said.
Despite her ambitious choice of running for U.S. Senator in her very first run for public office, Britt has proven her ability to garner public attention and gain support.
A poll conducted by Alabama Daily News and Gray Television earlier this month showed that Britt had pulled ahead as frontrunner in this race, with 32% of likely Republican primary voters saying they would vote for her. Hers has been a steady upward climb, gaining ground in periodic polls taken since last August.
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It’s no secret that Britt entered the race with connections from her year spent working in politics. Her opponents label her as an “insider” lobbyist out of touch with regular folks. To which her campaign points out that her two primary opponents are a six term congressman and a wealthy defense contractor and not exactly outsiders.
Britt herself points back to her roots growing up in the Wiregrass town of Enterprise, the daughter of two small business owners. She says the campaign trail has given her an opportunity to connect with everyday Alabamians face-to-face about their biggest hopes and fears in today’s world.
“It has been energizing because it is very clear that the people of Alabama want new blood,” she said. “They want someone who will fight for their Christian conservative values.”
She believes that her knowledge and experience, her deep love for her home state, and her passion as a mother to change the state of this nation for her children’s sake, make her the perfect candidate to do just that.