Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., leads a press conference at the Capitol Visitor Center about the Fire Fauci Act, which aims to increase Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, for his treatment of Covid-19, on June 15, 2021.
Former President Donald Trump will gather the faithful in Alabama on Saturday, a blessing to Rep. Mo Brooks, his favorite Senate candidate, who is behind in the money race there and struggling to attract some Republicans unnerved by his kind of slash-and-burn politics.
This year, the six-term congressman helped the leadership in Congress nullify the results of the 2020 presidential election and launched a run for the Senate. He then earned the former president’s backing and put it at the forefront of his campaign, displaying “TRUMP APPROVED” above his own name on placards. Brooks is now the frontrunner for the 2022 race.
“No candidate in Alabama could say with a straight face that they would pass a Trump endorsement,” said Republican Representative Barry Moore, who backs Brooks. “For most Alabamans, a Trump endorsement is the best guarantee that the receiving candidate will be at the forefront of the fight for the issues they care about.”
But the race in the Senate will test Trump’s staying power as some Republicans look for an alternative to Brooks. In addition to putting his baseless opposition to the certification of the 2020 election at the center of his candidacy, Brooks has made a series of controversial statements, speaking of a “war on whites” and appearing to have sympathy for a man slain by this week.
police were arrested in connection with a bomb threat near the US Capitol.
“Although the motivation of this terrorist is not yet publicly known, I generally understand the anger of the citizen against dictatorial socialism and its threat to liberty, liberty and the fabric of American society,” Brooks tweeted Thursday.
“The way to stop the march of socialism is for patriotic Americans to fight back in the 2022 and 2024 elections.”
Among those taking part in the primary GOP against Brooks are:
Katie Britt, the former president and CEO of the Business Council of Alabama; Lynda Blanchard, Trump’s US Ambassador to Slovenia;
and businesswoman Jessica Taylor. If one won, they would most likely become the first woman to be elected to the Senate from Alabama.
While Blanchard put millions into her campaign, Britt raised the most of all candidates in the second financial quarter of the year: $2.2 million, more than double what Brooks brought in at the time.
Britt also won the support of outgoing Republican Senator Richard Shelby, her former boss and the man who currently holds the seat.
Shelby told CNN that Brooks is a “special congressman” and “not a mainstream man,” while Britt is “by far the best qualified, promising candidate in the job.”
But the former president’s meeting in Cullman, Alabama — part of a congressional district where Trump received 81% of the vote, the most of any in the country — will remind voters who he supports for the Senate.
It will probably also increase Brooks’ war chest. The congressman has posted ads on Facebook telling his supporters that if they donate $1,000 per person, he will set them up in an air-conditioned tent with chairs near the rally stage. For $250, he makes sure they get “excellent seating.”
The Trump Factor
Other candidates have attacked Brooks, who was first elected to public office as a member of the Alabama House of Representatives in 1982, as a career politician.
But Trump’s support could have more leverage in the GOP primaries, leading candidates to go after his pick and link to the former president. Britt is already running Facebook ads that say it’s “time to finish Trump’s border wall”.
“We are very proud of our hospitality here in Alabama and we welcome President Trump back to our state,” Britt said in a statement. “He showed the nation that we don’t need ineffective career politicians in Washington. We need someone who gets things done in the US Senate, and I am that person.”
And Taylor, who lost a House race in 2020 before announcing her 2022 Senate campaign, tried to attack Brooks for not being strong enough for Trump. She noted that he taunted Trump during the 2016 race and did not donate to Trump’s 2016 or 2020 campaigns, even though he gave to GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2012.
“He only talks and takes no action, as his congressional report will reflect,” Taylor said. “He has been there since 2010 and has accomplished absolutely nothing.”
A Brooks employee turned down a request to interview the congressman and did not respond to further questions for comment.
Trump has a spotty record in recent US Senate races in Alabama. His 2017 notes from then-Sen. Luther Strange in the GOP primary and Judge Roy Moore in the general election were unsuccessful. But while Trump may not be a kingmaker, he could destroy a Republican candidate’s campaign in Alabama.
In 2020, then-President Jeff Sessions attacked, following their fallout over Sessions’ treatment of the Russia investigation as Trump’s attorney general. That put an end to Sessions’ bid to return to the Senate. Ever loved in the state—he had no opponent in 2014—Sessions lost to former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville in the primaries, who went on to beat Democrat Doug Jones in the general election.
Until now, Trump’s involvement in the 2022 race has been limited to praising Brooks. “Few Republicans have as much COURAGE and FIGHT as Congressman Mo Brooks in Alabama,” Trump said in April.
Brooks campaign built on Big Lie
After backing Texas Senator Ted Cruz as president in 2016, Brooks quickly became a diehard supporter following Trump’s victory. In 2020, Brooks became one of the first congressmen to publicly say he would object to the certification of Joe Biden’s victory. The night before the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally, he tweeted that Trump had personally asked him to speak “about the weaknesses of the electoral system that the Socialist Democrats are exploiting to steal this election.”
Speaking at the meeting, Brooks said, “Today is the day that American patriots start writing names and kicking them.” Just hours later, the pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol to try to stop congressional certification.
After the uprising, Brooks called for “the perpetrators of the Capitol bombing” to be prosecuted “to the fullest extent of the law”. But he also falsely suggested that left-wing Antifa activists had “orchestrated” the attack. Two Democrats tabled a resolution to punish Brooks for his comments at the meeting.
Brooks has no regrets about his comments at the January 6 rally.
“I have done my duty for my country,” he told CNN in March.
In a speech that launched his Senate campaign the same month, Brooks, 66, criticized the culture of cancellation, “tech censorship,” the skyrocketing debt rise, the media, transgender rights and undocumented immigrants crossing the southern border.
He attacked the Biden government’s $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill for providing $5 billion to farmers of color, claiming “The Socialist Democrat’s message: Whites don’t need to apply.” He then said that “all racism is abhorrent”, and that people should be judged by their characters rather than by their race.
He also said he had “led the charge” to nullify the 2020 election, been endorsed by Trump twice, and twice stood by his side on two impeachments — and that “no other candidate” can say that.