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Retired Marine colonel to launch write-in campaign in Alabama Senate election to challenge Roy Moore

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Retired Marine Col. Lee Busby, 60, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, said he plans to launch a write-in campaign in the state's Senate race. Busby said he is entering the race because the state is dissatisfied with Republican candidate Roy Moore and Democratic candidate Doug Jones. (Image source: Southern Living video screenshot)

A retired Marine colonel who once worked as a top aide to White House chief of staff John Kelly plans to launch a write-in campaign to enter Alabama’s Senate race, according to The Washington Post.

Who is the candidate?

Retired Marine Col. Lee Busby, 60, of Tuscaloosa served as an officer in Iraq after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. He later worked as a defense contractor who trained soldiers in Afghanistan. He also served as the vice chief of staff to Kelly when Trump’s chief of staff was a three-star lieutenant general.

Busby retired from the United States Marine Corps in 2013 and now sculpts portraits of military veterans.

"I'm no Michelangelo, but I know the world that these people operate in and I know what they went through,” he recently told Southern Living. “And, I do have some ability to sculpt. So, that's what I want to do."

Why is he entering the race?

Busby said he thinks a centrist candidate has a chance to win the election on Dec. 12 — although there are just about two weeks left in the campaign.

“I think you can flip this thing. If this were a military operation, the left flank and the right flank are heavily guarded,” Busby said. “I think that gives you an opportunity to run straight up the middle.”

Busby said he is entering the race because the state is dissatisfied with Republican candidate Roy Moore and Democratic candidate Doug Jones.

“I just don’t believe that either one of them are qualified to be in the U.S. Senate,” Busby said of Moore and Jones, noting that he attended a fundraiser for Jones earlier this year but did not donate to his campaign.

Busby made similar comments to the Daily Beast, arguing that “Alabama is not happy with the two choices we have down here. They are not appealing.”

He told the Post that he is not sure if the allegations of sexual misconduct against Moore are true — but he doesn’t care to find out.

“It has created enough distaste in my mind,” he explained. “As a voter, I don’t need to get to the bottom of it.”

Republicans hesitated to float a write-in candidate as an alternative to Moore, fearing that such a candidate would sway the election in Jones’ favor. But Busby said he thinks he can attract moderate Democrats as well, citing Jones’ position on abortion.

“The people of Alabama are not going to be represented by someone who supports a liberal abortion policy,” Busby said. “I’m extremely concerned about the Democratic Party in Alabama. I don’t think they reflect Alabama’s views.”

Busby said he believes life begins at conception, though he would support exceptions to abortion restrictions in cases of rape, incest, or maternal mortality risk.

“At some point, it becomes a human life,” he said. “And you have to protect those who can’t protect themselves.”

Busby said he voted for Ohio Gov. John Kasich in the 2016 Republican presidential primary and supported President Donald Trump in last year’s general election. He said he supports an Obamacare repeal and lower taxes.

Asked about his chances, Busby said he is relying on his experience and on social media to raise awareness about his campaign.

According to the Washington Post, under Alabama law, write-in candidates will be counted in the election as long as they are for a living person who is eligible for the office.

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