As the 2018 U.S. midterm elections approach, Alabama representatives Matt Fridy and Cam Ward discussed important election issues with Samford’s College Republicans on Sept. 12, 2018. Fridy and Ward also offered their predictions.
Fridy represents Alabama’s 73rd District and Ward represents Alabama’s 14th District.
Currently, both the Republicans and Democrats are making gains.
Ward and Fridy, both Republicans , predict the Democrats will win back the U.S. House of Representatives. The Democrats only need 23 seats to regain their majority in the House.
In the U.S. Senate, the Republicans only have two-seat majority, but this could widen.
“We could go from a 51 to a 53 seat majority. That would be a check on whatever the Democrats do in the House,” Ward said.
While Fridy and Ward both offered their predictions, they also urged caution. Just eight weeks remain, but Fridy said uncertainty still lingers. Fridy said Robert Mueller’s investigation and President Donald Trump’s demeanor have both sowed doubt.
“We have not experienced something like this in our lifetimes. We have no idea what’s going to happen because everything hinges on a tweet sometimes,” Fridy said.
Despite Trump’s demeanor, Fridy said Trump has loyal supporters. Trump’s endorsements could boost Republican candidate’s popularity. During these midterms, Trump has the heaviest campaign travel schedule of any president in modern times.
“He’s going to be everywhere, and he has this die-hard base that is going to turn out,” Fridy said.
Trump’s base could sway contested races such as Georgia and Florida’s gubernatorial races. Here, only two or three points separate the candidates.
According to Ward, these elections also hinge on demographics.
“We’re probably going to lose the U.S. House of Representatives because we are underperforming in suburban areas. We’re just not selling our message there,” Ward said.
According to Ward, the Republican Party’s message isn’t reaching suburban educated women. He said they’re disgusted by the fighting in politics and care more about issues than party. They’re concerned about tax cuts, jobs and their children. Ward said the Republican Party must focus on those issues.
Demographics are also shifting. While Republicans are winning in North Dakota and Florida, they could lose in Tennessee, Georgia and Arizona. According to Ward, many northeastern liberals are retiring in these Republican-controlled states and risk flipping them.
“It’s created a dynamic that none of us saw coming 10 or 15 years ago, but It’s not registering here in Alabama,” he said. “We’re on verge of another huge red election year.”
In the Alabama Senate, Ward said he believes Republicans will jump from 27 seats to 28 and the Republicans’ seats will leap from 72 to 78 in Alabama’s House of Representatives.
“That’s the most since Rutherford B. Hayes was president in the 1870s,” Ward said.
From Ward’s perspective, the only contested races are for Alabama’s Supreme Court Chief Justice and Representative Martha Roby’s seat. Ward said all other Alabama Republicans have a high chance of winning.
“There’s a 98.6 percent chance of Roby winning. That’s the worse,” Ward said. “Everyone else has over a 99 percent chance of winning. There’s not a blue tsunami in Alabama.”
Samford students also weighed in on the midterms. Senior Samford student Jamie Davenport said Democrats are energized.
Davenport is an international relations major and the vice president of Samford’s College Democrats.
“I think the blue wave is coming and coming strong. All polling and reports on the midterms indicate that Democrats are going to take the House at the very least and potentially gain a stronger majority,” Davenport said.
Davenport said two major events motivated Democrats, Trump’s inauguration and the 2017 Women’s March. Both these events pushed more women and young people into politics. For example, Davenport said Alabama Senate Democratic candidate Lindsay Deckard decided to run for office after attending the march.
“This vigor is largely due to people realizing they can’t be apathetic anymore and have everything go smoothly,” Davenport said.
As the midterms near, national issues like the environment, taxes and immigration dominate Davenport’s mind.
On these issues, Davenport said Trump and the Republican Party have failed. From Davenport’s view, their policies target the poor and minority groups.
For example, Davenport said Trump gutting the Environmental Protection Agency could intensify Birmingham’s pollution. Birmingham has large poor and minority populations and the pollution could harm their health.
Besides damaging public health, Davenport said Trump and the Republican Party’s tax policy burdens the poor and middle class.
“The tax policy … privileges the upper class and passes the weight to the middle and lower classes,” she said.
Finally, Davenport said Trump’s immigration policy fails at deterring illegal immigration and needlessly separates families.
“We see children fit six to a cell. We see the testimonies of parents after having their children separated from them without their knowledge,” she said.
Sophomore Samford student Mitchell Whitley, a political science major, also shared midterm issues important to him. For Whitley, illegal immigration is one such issue.
According to Whitley, it endangers Americans such as when an illegal immigrant killed Mollie Tibbets. Whitley said Trump’s wall would ensure America’s safety.
“MS-13 gang members need to be kept out. I think her death showed we need increased border security, vetting and background checks. ,” he said.
Mass shootings are another big issue for Whitley. Due to these shootings,Whitley said he fears for his safety at college.
Rather than gun control, Whitley said schools should increase security.
“We shouldn’t have to go to school and be scared we’re going to get shot. Increased security is better because it deters people from doing it and there’s a quicker response,” he said. “Otherwise, it could last longer and more people could get hurt.”
According to Whitley, investing in America’s mental health could also deter these shootings.
“I feel terrible for the families that have to go through this, but I think the gun isn’t responsible for the shooting itself,” Whitley said. “The government should do the best it can to make sure people who are mentally ill or have a criminal record can’t access a firearm.”
Despite these polarizing issues, Matt Fridy encouraged everyone to vote in the midterm elections and express their beliefs.
William Marlow, News Editor