On Sunday October 7, The Chanticleer’s Scott Young talked to Democratic nominee for Alabama’s 3rd Congressional District, Mallory Hagan. Incumbent and Republican candidate Mike Rogers has agreed to an interview as well, which will be shared at a later date.
Scott Young: Yesterday, as you know, Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court. I believe the margin was 50-48, and this was all after he was accused of sexual misconduct in high school and when he attended Yale. When responding to these allegations Dr. Ford made, Congressman Rogers said “I am confident that she believed something happened to her. She believes something happened to her. I just don’t believe it was Judge Kavanaugh that did whatever happened to her.” What is your reaction to Congressman Rogers’ statement and to the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh?
Mallory Hagan: My reaction to Mike Rogers’ statement is that that is someone toeing the party line if I’ve ever heard of it. Every single person in the Republican Party who has made a public statement has said something very similar. What we deserve, as constituents of Alabama’s third district, is someone who’s not afraid to step up and be a leader. As someone who is a victim of sexual assault, I can absolutely tell you that one thing you never forget is who it was, and so I think that’s really insulting to the intelligence of Dr. Ford. I think it’s insulting to every sexual assault survivor who has ever experienced something so traumatic. You may forget the details of the trauma, but you never forget who caused the trauma. That’s my response to him, and the response I have to Judge Kavanaugh being confirmed is that I think that it’s a great disservice to Americans that we have pushed through a Supreme Court nomination and confirmed a now-Supreme Court Justice without due diligence. An FBI investigation that has parameters set by the White House is not an FBI investigation. The American people deserve due diligence when appointing someone to the most powerful position, perhaps, in our government.
SY: Collectively, in the United States, there are 44 million Americans who owe $1.5 trillion in student debt alone. Many Americans spend their lives paying off this massive amount of debt while, at the same time, trying to a good paying job. What should we be doing differently to relieve this burden on American students?
MH: I think we could start with variable repayment rates. I think it’s really important that students are able to get on their feet before they have to pay back those student loans and that the percentage that they pay back in those student loans should be relative to the income that they have. Before I decided to run for office, I was working at the TV station, the NBC affiliate over in Columbus (Georgia). The first job that I had at the station was an entry level position for someone directly out of college and that position paid less than $30,000 a year. If I were to have had student debt, on top of trying to pay for rent, pay a car note, pay for insurance, there would have been no way to make that happen. It’s unacceptable that that’s the conundrum we find college graduates in at this point. I really think that we should be looking at different ways to repay these loans, maybe on a flighting scale that allows students to move up the income ladder a little bit before they start heavily paying back those loans.
SY: In August, the Alabama Democratic Party voted to keep Nancy Worley as the party’s Chair. Many within the party say that there is a lack of infrastructure and social media presence necessary to support Democratic candidates including Senator Doug Jones who said “There’s no outreach. There’s no get out the vote effort. There’s no organization.” Would you agree that the state’s Democratic Party needs change and that Mrs. Worley should resign as its Chair?
MH: I do think that the State Democratic Party could use better collaboration with some of our candidates and community leaders. They have provided great resources to me by way of advice, however, there has been little available funding to help with our campaign and others like it. I do think that the time to really discuss that and move forward in any direction is November 7. We do have a tremendous amount of Democratic candidates running all over this state who are putting their time and energy and talents and recruiting volunteering, all of that, into winning elections and to see divides within the party while that’s happening is just not helpful to any one of us or any of our causes. I really hope that all parties involved will consider reconvening on the conversation until after the midterms.
SY: In 2016, about 27.3 million people lacked health insurance in the United States. Some folks in the more progressive wing of the party have proposed a Medicare for All plan, which would guarantee health care to everybody. A study from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University estimated that a Medicare for All plan would cost approximately $32 trillion over 10 years. Do you support the Medicare for All plan, and if so, how do you account for the additional costs of the program?
MH: I think that in the long run the single-payer system is going to be the best option for Americans. Right now, we spend more than double the next industrialized country on our healthcare and we have worse outcomes. So, we’re paying entirely too much money as it is for the healthcare we receive and the quality of healthcare we receive. But I’m more concerned with the more immediate problems we have here in the state of Alabama. As you know, we did not expand Medicaid in our state, therefore, our hospitals are closing, RMC Jacksonville just closed, and so we’ve got immediate problems to take care of before we tackle what is going to be the argument over Medicare for All. While I’m hopeful to see that come back into the conversation here in the future, I’m a realist, and I don’t think we’re gonna see that in the next four to six years, and so what we need to be focused on are the immediate problems we have in our State. We need to immediately expand Medicaid, which is why I’m hopeful to see Walt Maddox be elected to Governor.
SY: During an event with the Auburn University College Republicans, Congressman Rogers attacked your candidacy by saying “I never left Alabama. I’ve been here over the last five decades raising a family and proud of this country, proud of the state. And I was disappointed particularly since she left the state and spent nine of the last ten years living in New York and California. How can you think you’re the right person to come back and represent that culture in Washington? I just don’t understand how she reconciles that, but I think the voters are going to take care of that.” What is your response to these line of attacks by Congressman Rogers?
MH: Well, I would start out by saying Congressman Rogers has been in office for sixteen years, literally since I was in like eighth grade I think. Before that, he was in our state legislature, so if we had eighteen-year olds who are graduating high school, nineteen-year olds who are going off to college and they don’t see opportunity in our state, look no further than a man who’s been a career politician and what he has accomplished or not accomplished in our state since then. Since Congressman Rogers took office, when I was in eighth grade, Anniston, his home town, has been rated one of the top ten worst places to have a child or raise a child. We lost Fort McClellan, which was not his fault, but I don’t think he’s done very much to help rebuild his hometown since then. Our rural hospitals have closed, our economy has faltered, and all of those things are direct results of the people we elect to office. So, perhaps, I left Alabama to seek opportunity, and I think that any parent of any child would want them to do the same, to see the world, to have experiences outside of the place that they grew up. I think we could all agree that having those types of experiences makes a person, perhaps, more well-rounded. My family being here for seven generations, my growing up here, graduating high school from here, I think that it’s really interesting that someone who was born in Indiana has something to say about a person who’s been in this state for that long. My family lives and breathes the lifestyle that so many Alabamians do. My parents lived a very modest lifestyle, paycheck to paycheck, they were teenagers when I was born. I had to get a job when I turned 14 if I wanted to pay for things like gas and my extracurricular activities. I just don’t think that Congressman Rogers has the ability to connect with people on that level and has the ability to understand what it is that they’re facing on a day to day basis. So, I would argue that my life experiences make me a better representative of Alabama because they more closely mirror that of Alabamians.
SY: To expand on how you said he’s been in office for sixteen years and has become a career politician, there have been some Representatives who have term limited themselves. I think it was Representative Gary Palmer of Alabama’s Sixth district who said that he would limit himself, I think, to five terms when he was running for his office. Would you commit to any term limits?
MH: Yeah, you know, I think that three terms in the House of Representatives would be fair, in my opinion, to be able to work with two different administrations, to be able to introduce legislation, to be able to work on behalf of the people in your district, and then I personally think, move on. I think that the reason we have so much corruption in our political system, and especially in the House of Representatives, is that people are only there serving an interest that helps them get re-elected, and they do it over and over and over again. So, I think term limits are really important and I absolutely would adhere to term limits myself.
SY: When asked about the legalization of marijuana during the Democratic primary debate for Governor, Mayor Maddox said he supports medical marijuana but fell short of endorsing legalization for recreational use, saying he wants to wait for more data from other states to come in before deciding. Do you support the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes or would you say that we should wait for more data to come in from other states that have legalized recreational marijuana?
MH: I 100% agree with Mayor Maddox and that’s been my answer to this question all along, even before I decided to run for office. As someone who spent time out in California and has friends in Colorado, I think we still have quite a bit to learn about the recreational use of marijuana and how it impacts things that are safety related for all of us. So, yeah, I’m with Mayor Maddox on that one, I think medical marijuana for sure, but let’s wait on recreational.
SY: Democrats in the House such as Al Green and Maxine Waters have called for the impeachment of President Donald Trump whereas House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi has shied away from giving her take, saying that Robert Mueller’s investigation should be followed through. If elected, would you vote in favor of the President’s impeachment, or do you believe we should wait for the findings of Robert Mueller’s investigation before making a decision?
MH: We should absolutely wait for the findings of Mueller’s investigation. As I mentioned earlier, talking about the Supreme Court nomination, I said the Americans deserve due diligence. That doesn’t change from office to office or appointment to appointment. We should be waiting for the findings and should there come back a reason to impeach the President, then we move forward from that direction, but until then, that doesn’t make sense to me.
SY: Do you have concerns that Rod Rosenstein, who oversees Mueller’s Russia investigation, may be fired and replaced with someone more friendly to the President to influence Mueller’s investigation?
MH: Well, I’ll start by saying that I don’t put anything past anybody these days, especially this administration, but I do think that we should let the Justice Department do their job, and I’ll leave it at that.
SY: About two weeks ago, Donald Trump placed tariffs on about $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. As a direct result, companies were forced to either lay off their workers or shift that price increase to consumers. Do you believe that these tariffs are a viable, long-term strategy to force China to enact fairer trade practices or will this only hurt American workers and consumers?
MH: I think that this is beyond already hurting American workers and consumers, and it’s interesting to point out that Congressman Rogers has been supportive of these tariffs and these changes to trade. Meanwhile, Alabama families that depend on manufacturing jobs are looking at potential doom and gloom from this. Even Governor Ivey has said that these decisions will hurt Alabama. So, I hope that people are paying attention when they vote on November 6 because Congressman Rogers has directly disregarded what’s best for the people of Alabama’s third district in an effort to toe the Republican party line.