Durant, who has never held elected office, says people are ready for a fresh face and an outsider, rather than a career politician
Published January 19, 2022 8:27am EST
EXCLUSIVE: Former U.S. Army Special Operations aviator Mike Durant is making a splash as the newest candidate in the Republican race to become Alabama’s next U.S. senator, joining an already heated contest to replace retiring Republican Sen. Richard Shelby at the end of his term.
Durant, who was famously shot down during the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu in Somalia and portrayed in the 2001 film “Black Hawk Down,” told Fox News in an exclusive interview that his experience in the military, and as a small business owner working with the Department of Defense, had prepared him to take a stand for average Alabamians against the Biden administration’s “mismanagement” of the country.
Durant expressed his desire for America to hold on to the founding principles that made it great, rather than cave to pressure from the liberal media seeking to tear them all apart in their efforts to appease Big Tech companies.
“There’s a frustration level that is arguably at its highest point now with the current administration, the kind of decisions that are being made. And if I had to point to a single event that just put me over the top, it’s probably the way the withdrawal from Afghanistan was handled,” Durant said when asked why he decided to jump into the race after his now-opponents, Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., and businesswoman Katie Britt, had already been campaigning for months.
“I just couldn’t believe it understanding the decades of sacrifice, thousands of lives lost, and just to see complete mismanagement because you have people in positions of authority who are career politicians – they don’t understand the implications of their decisions,” he said, seemingly referencing President Biden who has spent over 50 years of his life in public office.
Durant said when compared to most career politicians, he has lived two lives. He pointed to his time in the U.S. Army as well as his subsequent career as a business owner. He added that because of those experiences he had a much better understanding of the issues facing Americans and couldn’t see himself being angry on the sidelines any longer.
When asked how his experiences would help him stand out from Britt and Brooks, Durant argued that the longer one stayed in politics, the further they distanced themselves from the real world.
“You don’t understand what’s really going on out there with average Americans, average Alabamians in this case, what impacts them, what their values are. You get sucked into the Washington machine,” he said. “The founding fathers, their vision of this was not that. Their vision of this was citizens serve, they represent their constituents, they get something done, and they go back home.”
Britt and Brooks each have extensive experience working in politics. The former served as Shelby’s chief of staff before becoming president of the Business Council of Alabama, while the latter was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010 after serving a number of years in the Alabama state legislature and as a member of the Madison County Commission.
Durant pointed to the 2020 election of Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., a former college football coach who never held elected office, as evidence that people were looking for fresh ideas and outsiders.
While discussing his experience as a small business owner, Durant, who served as president and CEO of Pinnacle Solutions Inc. until reportedly turning control of the company over to his employees this month, said he knew what it was like to worry about the well-being of employees and their families, especially when working with the federal government and the accompanying uncertainty of whether a contract would be paid or not.
“When my contract doesn’t get funded, I’m not getting paid. So now I have to figure out, how do I support the families and the workers that I have in my workforce, not only from a business perspective, but once the funding is turned back on again, how am I going to get it back?” he said.
Turning from his experience, Durant explained that his biggest concerns when it came to the issues facing the country were rising inflation and increases to the national debt.
“Raising the debt ceiling doesn’t help that issue. I think holding fast on cutting costs, cutting programs that are not value added that gets us to a balanced budget is absolutely something that is in the hands of Congress, and I would fight to do that,” Durant said.
He added that having a commitment to a strong national defense force was incredibly important to Alabama’s economy because it was heavily dependent on Department of Defense related work all the way from Mobile to Huntsville.
Since launching his campaign in October, Durant has run a large swath of television ads declaring his support for former President Trump and the policies he enacted throughout his four years in the White House. When asked about Trump’s endorsement of Brooks last year and the potential for him to reassess that endorsement, Durant expressed optimism that any such reassessment would positively benefit his campaign.
“Any good leader is constantly assessing their courses of action and their decisions. That’s what you have to do as a leader, and President Trump is obviously a great leader, both in business and certainly in how he served the nation as president,” he said. “If he were to reassess and change his mind about who he wants to get behind, I don’t think there’s any question that would have a positive impact on me here in Alabama, and I would welcome that.”
Durant spoke of hearing “a lot of chatter” when it came to Trump second-guessing his endorsement of Brooks, but admitted that rumor and speculation often go on in the background of politics.
“Many people have said that they think he’s reassessing that. I think that would be great because if he had never endorsed Mo, I got to think I’d have a real shot at that endorsement. It would mean a lot to my campaign,” he said.
When asked about the apparent effort by pundits and commentators within the liberal media to seemingly perpetuate serious issues facing the country, Durant argued that the media had “lost its way,” devolving into a “financial venture” that was all about advertising and appeasing the Big Tech companies supporting them. He added that the media’s role was no longer based on what it was originally envisioned to be: the open and honest reporting of the facts.
“It’s truly unfortunate because a lot of Americans listen to what they listen to every day, and they’re only hearing what that particular source of information wants them to hear. And it really, really swings the overall mentality of the voters and I think further divides us as a nation,” he said.
“If we could fix that problem, I think we would be fixing a lot of the division that we experience today in the country because people are being spoon-fed information that pushes them even further in the direction that they tend to lean already,” he added. “And it doesn’t give them the opportunity to make an honest and fair assessment of what’s really going on with all the facts on the table.”
Turning to the media’s continued advocacy of certain narratives, such as criticizing those opposed to the teaching of critical race theory in schools despite the rejection of such narratives in the Virginia and New Jersey elections in November, Durant proclaimed he was unable “to unravel the mentality of the liberal media.”
“I can’t do it. I don’t know why they think the way they think. I really don’t. I mean, it just doesn’t make any sense to me,” he said. “Maybe it starts in our education system where there tends to be a lot of liberal-thinking people, and they set that foundation. I’m not sure. I don’t understand it.”
“Obviously, I believe strongly in what I believe in. These are the principles that got us to where we are today. This is a great country. It can be better, but it is an absolutely great country,” he added. “I’ve lived in a lot of places and there’s not any that I would rather live than this one.”
“Instead of being critical and tearing apart all the things that got us to where we are today, we should be embracing those things, celebrating them, and keep working together to make it a better country,” Durant added.
According to AL.com, the most recent polling in the race shows Brooks with a slight lead at 31.4% with Britt close behind at 26.2%. Durant, who joined the race months after Brooks and Britt, quickly jumped to 16.6%. Those undecided stand at 21.8%.
Alabama’s Republican primary will be held on May 24. If no candidate receives at least 50% of the vote, the two candidates with the most votes will advance to a runoff.
Brandon Gillespie is an associate editor at Fox News. Follow him on Twitter at @brandon_cg.