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Hilliard throws hat into congressional seat race

State Rep. Earl Hilliard Jr. (D-Birmingham) threw his hat in the ring for the 7th District congressional seat being vacated by Congressman Artur Davis (D-Birmingham).

Hilliard made the announcement in Birmingham Monday morning. He is the second Democrat to declare in the race. Terri Sewell, a Birmingham attorney originally from Selma, announced her candidacy in mid-February.

Sewell announced Monday that she is prepared to report to the Federal Election Commission that she raised $123,717.69 in campaign donations since Jan. 28. Sewell said she will start the second quarter with $119,920 cash on hand. The quarterly report is due April 15, according to the FEC’s calendar.

“I’m running for Congress for one simple reason: to unite this district behind the powerful notion that if you work hard enough in Alabama, the American dream awaits you,” she said. “Voters are responding to my message and I am honored that so many have already contributed to my campaign.”

In his announcement speech, Hilliard emphasized the next congressman from the 7th District strongly support President Obama and the administration’s efforts to create high-paying jobs, provide access to healthcare for all Americans and end the abuses of Wall Street and other corporate executives.

“As congressman, my first priority will be jobs, jobs and more jobs for the district,” Hilliard said. “I’ll work with President Obama to turn our economy around. The second priority will be to reform the healthcare system so that every citizen has access to coverage, especially our citizens who live in areas where coverage is inadequate. Third is to focus on issues important to our children whether they are improving education, reducing the use of drugs, or helping restore marriage as a secure and loving place that must be the foundation of our communities.”

Hilliard was recently named freshman legislator of the year by the House Democratic Caucus. He serves on committees that involve agriculture and forestry, commerce, and tourism and travel.

Hilliard said he is announcing his plans early and beginning the campaign now because he wants to work the grassroots level. He said he plans to mount an aggressive campaign in every county of the district, no matter how large or small. The 7th District includes Greene, Choctaw, Sumter, Marengo, Dallas, Wilcox, Perry and Hale and parts of Jefferson, Tuscaloosa, Clarke and Pickens counties.

The seat was once held by his father, who was the first African-American since Reconstruction to be elected to Congress from Alabama.

Hiliard is a graduate of Morehouse College, attended the University of Alabama School of Law and received his law degree from Howard University School of Law in Washington, D.C.

He is a member of Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church of North Pratt, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Greater Birmingham Foster and Adoptive Parent Association and the Screen Actors Guild. He also serves on numerous business, civic and community boards.

Hilliard is married to Janine Hunt-Hilliard. He is the father of two children.