Campaign swing brings Julian McPhillips to town

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 23, 2002

Features Editor

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Julian McPhillips was in Troy Wednesday as a stop on a campaign swing through the Wiregrass.

McPhillips was more eager to talk about his qualifications for the job he is seeking than about his opponents – Susan Parker on the Democratic ticket and the incumbent Republican candidate Jeff Sessions.

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McPhillips grew up in Cullman where he attended public schools. He graduated from Sewanee Military Academy in 1964, Princeton University cum laude in 1968 and Columbia Law School in 1971.

He spent four years on Wall Street before moving back to Alabama and working as assistant attorney general under Bill Baxley.

McPhillips left the attorney general’s office in 1977 to open his own law office. In that same year, he began a campaign for attorney general and finished second in a field of nine candidates, but lost the run-off spot.

Since that time, McPhillips has built up a strong trial lawyer practice in Montgomery at McPhillips, Shinbaum & Gill, with emphasis on public interest cases, personal injury and employment litigation. The firm does criminal defense work as well.

Throwing his hat back in the political ring was the result of a "calling," he said.

"I have a vision and passion to reach out and help hurting Alabamians," McPhillips said.

Out of that vision and passion, McPhillips has established a four cornerstone-campaign. He believes those cornerstones provide a strong and firm foundation on which to stand and fight for the opportunity to represent Alabama in the U.S. Senate.

The cornerstones of his campaign are economic development and job production, health care reform, improving public education and equal justice.

"Combating terrorism and a strong national defense are also top priorities," McPhillips said. "So are protecting Social Security and Medicare-Medicaid for our elderly and infirm. I am also committed to fighting crime, respect for the sanctity of life, environmental and consumer protection, helping farmers and campaign finance reform."

McPhillips’ campaign platform is a noble one, yet what sets it apart from that of others is the emphasis he is placing on faith and family.

"Faith is taboo in some public sectors, but to me faith and family are very important," he said.

A television advertisement for the McPhillips campaign is creating mixed reactions across the state, however, McPhillips said the response is 90 percent positive.

"No," McPhillips said he doesn’t see the commercials as using his "faith" for personal gain.

"That’s just the way we are," he said, explaining why he chose to film a political ad with his family in prayer around the table. "My daughter, Grace, was asked to say a blessing that day. She didn’t have anything prepared, but she gave thanks, just as we always do. We

are living in very troubled times. We are in a moral decline. We need men and women of good moral character who are firmly grounded in their faith to lead us. What I am saying to the people of Alabama through this commercial is ‘As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.’ I want them to know where I stand.’"

For McPhillips, letting voters know where he stands as a politician and as a person is an important part of his campaign – a campaign to which he has committed $1 million of his own money.

"Maybe, it’s a gamble," he said, with a smile. "If I win, it will have been worth it. If I lose … I’ll have to make it back."