Sen. Richard Shelby, who has represented Alabama in Washington since 1986, is facing opposition on both sides this year.
One of those opposing the long-time senator is Ron Crumpton, a Democrat from Shelby County with a history of political activism and big ideas for Alabama.
Crumpton took his first job at Vestavia Bowl, where he learned to repair the various machines that run the bowling alley, and worked as a landscaper spring and summer.
After a back injury ended his career in mechanics and landscaping, Crumpton pursued a degree in Political Science and Journalism at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Originally planning to be a journalist, Crumpton wrote an article for UAB’s school magazine on the merits of medical marijuana. The article was picked up by several state news outlets and eventually led Crumpton to get involved with legislation that was making its way through the state Legislature.
From there, Crumpton spent about eight years lobbying politicians in Alabama and testifying before multiple committees, including the first joint hearing on sentencing reform.
When Jeff Sessions, Alabama’s junior U.S. senator, faced no opposition in 2014, Crumpton vowed that Shelby would not have that opportunity in 2016.
“I was tired of seeing Republicans run unopposed,” Crumpton said. “And I was tired of seeing Democrats run to the right and get trampled in general elections.”
His plan for the economy calls for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, addressing equal pay for women, breaking up the “too-big-to-fail” banks, ending tax breaks for companies moving overseas, investing in infrastructure and education and more.
“The majority of these schools are too small, antiquated and just don’t serve their purpose,” Crumpton said of his plan to invest in education. “How can we expect our children to learn the technology of the future when they’re using the technology of the past?”
“You can’t be against raising the minimum wage and support cutting social programs and say you’re for the people of Alabama,” Crumpton said, taking a dig at Shelby’s record.
Crumpton noted that Shelby currently sponsors and co-sponsors the fewest bills in the Senate and garners the lowest number of co-sponsors for his legislation.
“Apparently, all he’s doing is running around fighting Obama,” Crumpton said. “That’s not doing the people of Alabama any good.”
While Crumpton acknowledged it will be difficult to match Shelby’s campaign account – whose money comes mostly from Boeing, Lockheed Martin and others, according to OpenSecrets.org – he believes his message will effectively reach its audience.
“I think Senator Shelby is under the misconception that working for defense contractors is the same as working for Alabamians; it’s not,” Crumpton said. “I think we can get the support; we’ve just got to point out that he’s not working for Alabama.”
Specifically, Crumpton plans to discuss Shelby’s votes to raise the retirement age, to turn Social Security into a voucher program, and to create a flat-tax that would cause seniors to pay highers taxes on Social Security and Medicare benefits.
Further, Shelby has voted against provisions to assist veterans and Sessions has called such efforts an “entitlement we can’t afford.”
“I think our veterans are an entitlement that we can afford,” Crumpton said. “We seriously need to look at how we do things in this country and in this state.”
This part is part of our ongoing “Get to know” series spotlighting the various candidates in the 2016 Senate race. Click here to get to know the other candidates we’ve highlighted thus far.