From Paul Gattis | AL.com
Clayton Hinchman lost his right leg while on a combat mission in Iraq.
So the political scene in Washington D.C. won’t be a daunting encounter should the Huntsville businessman win election to Congress next year.
“I know what a battlefield is like,” he said. “And the battlefield in DC does not intimidate me.”
Hinchman, a Republican, formally announced his candidacy for the 5th Congressional District race Wednesday at the Huntsville-Madison County Veterans Memorial. U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks is the district’s four-term congressman but he is seeking election to the Senate in a special election later this year.
Brooks could still run for his House seat next year should his Senate bid be unsuccessful.
Hinchman’s announcement – almost 13 months before the GOP primary – was motivated because of what he said was a lack of name recognition in the north Alabama district. Democrat Butler Cain, a professor at the University of North Alabama, also said last week he is running for Congress.
With his wife and two young daughters at his side, Hinchman, 34, recounted Wednesday how he lost his leg. He stepped on a pressure wire that ignited an IED during a 2008 night raid to kill or capture al-Qaida in Iraq.
“Looking back, I took more out of Iraq than it ever took out of me,” Hinchman said.
Without calling Brooks by name, he said leaders in the 5th District have not been responsive to the needs of their constituents.
“Some career politicians have enjoyed the status quo for too long,” Hinchman said. “They demonize sects of people and create confusion for the sake of maintaining their power. Too long, our representatives have made political discourse into a football game where one side wins and the other loses.
“This is, frankly, wrong. There are no clear winners and losers and that should never be our goal. Our goal should be to do the very best for every single American.”
Hinchman followed up on his unstated critique of Brooks in an interview after his speech.
“From what we’ve been told and what I’ve heard is the fact that the 5th district needs a leader that’s willing to listen to the people and then take that message to Washington,” he said. “We need to fight for the people of the 5th District, all of Alabama, to ensure their lives are getting better.
“Right now, people feel they are not being listened to and I think that’s all over the country, not just in the 5th District.”
Hinchman and his family moved to Monrovia outside Huntsville in 2012 and he started USi, which provided operations management and consulting, information technology service and project management. Hinchman sold the company last year to Ignite and now works as its chief marketing officer.
“We captured the American dream,” Hinchman said. “And through this, we created jobs and we helped others as they searched for their American dream. This was a new level of service for me.”
Hinchman said he hoped that more veterans would seek political office.
“When you get into Washington, we’ve dealt with tough situations before,” he said of veterans. “But it’s about being pragmatic and looking for the best possible outcome for all. It’s not about winning or losing. It’s about doing what’s right for everyone.”