As Democrats campaign against “tough on crime” policies and for criminal justice reform, the party may end up with a congressional nominee who confined former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to an eight-by-six-foot cell at least twenty-three hours a day.
James Averhart, who is competing in a July 14 run-off election for an Alabama congressional seat, also oversaw a Bush-era military push to track down and punish veterans who deserted the Vietnam War — an initiative seen as an attempt to discourage soldiers from deserting during the Iraq War.
Averhart, who served as chief warrant officer five in the US Marine Corps, has a solid chance of being the Democratic nominee in the open-seat election in Alabama’s Republican-leaning first congressional district. Professor Kiani Gardner won 44 percent of votes in the March 3 primary contest, while Averhart received 40 percent.
The Democratic Party has sought out veterans to run for red seats in recent years, and the party has increasingly aligned itself with national security officials associated with harsh defense policies. Former deputy CIA director Avril Haines, who helped limit accountability for the agency’s torture program, is leading the foreign policy and national security transition team for former vice president Joe Biden’s presidential campaign.