This year, the six-term congressman helped lead the charge in Congress to overturn the 2020 presidential election results and launched a run for Senate. He then earned the former President’s support and put it at the forefront of his campaign, displaying “ENDORSED BY TRUMP” above his own name on placards. Brooks is now the front-runner for the 2022 race.
“No candidate in Alabama could say with a straight face they would pass on a Trump endorsement,” said Republican Rep. Barry Moore, who supports Brooks. “To most Alabamians, a Trump endorsement is the best assurance out there that the receiving candidate will be out front in the fight for the issues they care about.”
But the Senate race will test the enduring strength of Trump, as some Republicans look for an alternative to Brooks. Besides placing his baseless opposition to the certification of the 2020 election at the center of his candidacy, Brooks has made a series of controversial statements, talking about a “war on Whites” and appearing to be sympathetic to a man police arrested this week in connection with a bomb threat near the US Capitol.
“Although this terrorist’s motivation is not yet publicly known, and generally speaking, I understand citizenry anger directed at dictatorial Socialism and its threat to liberty, freedom and the very fabric of American society,” Brooks tweeted Thursday. “The way to stop Socialism’s march is for patriotic Americans to fight back in the 2022 and 2024 election.”
Among those running in the GOP primary 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 any won, they’d very likely become the first woman elected to the Senate from Alabama.
While Blanchard poured millions into her campaign, Britt raised the most of any candidate in the second financial quarter of the year: $2.2 million, which is more than twice what Brooks brought in during that time. Britt also won the support of retiring Republican Sen. Richard Shelby, her former boss and the man currently holding the seat.
Shelby told CNN that Brooks is a “fringe congressman” and “not a mainstream guy,” while Britt is “by far the best qualified, promising candidate in that job.”
But the former President’s rally 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 Senate.
It is also likely to increase Brooks’ war chest. The congressman has put ads on Facebook telling his supporters that if they donate $1,000 a person, he’ll set them up in an air-conditioned tent and seats near the rally’s stage. For $250, he will ensure 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 hold more sway in the GOP primary, leading candidates to go after his choice while linking themselves to the former President. Britt is already up with Facebook ads saying it’s “time to finish Trump’s border wall.”
“We take great pride in 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’s going to get things done in the U.S. Senate, and I’m that person.”
And Taylor, who lost a 2020 House race before announcing her 2022 Senate campaign, attempted to attack Brooks for not being a strong enough Trump supporter. She noted that he blasted 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’s all talk and no action, as his congressional record will reflect,” said Taylor. “He has been up there since 2010 and accomplished absolutely nothing.”
A Brooks aide declined a request to interview the congressman and did not respond to further questions for comment.
Trump has a spotty record in recent Alabama US Senate races. His 2017 endorsements of then-Sen. Luther Strange in the GOP primary and of Judge Roy Moore in the general election were unsuccessful. But while Trump might not be a kingmaker, he can destroy an Alabama Republican candidate’s campaign.
In 2020, the then-President attacked Jeff Sessions, stemming from their fallout over Sessions’ handling of the Russia probe as Trump’s attorney general. That ended Sessions’ bid to return to the Senate. Once beloved in the state — he faced no opponent in 2014 — Sessions lost to former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville in the primary, who went on to defeat Democrat Doug Jones in the general election.
So far, Trump’s involvement in the 2022 race has been limited to praising Brooks. “Few Republicans have as much COURAGE and FIGHT as Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks,” Trump said in April.
Brooks campaign built on Big Lie
After initially backing Texas’ Sen. Ted Cruz for president in 2016, Brooks quickly became a diehard supporter after Trump’s victory. In 2020, Brooks became one of the first members of Congress to say publicly that he would object to the certification of Joe Biden’s victory. The night before the January 6 “Stop the Steal” rally, he tweeted that Trump had personally asked him to speak “about the election system weaknesses that the Socialist Democrats exploited to steal this election.”
At the rally, Brooks said, “Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.” Just hours later, the pro-Trump mob stormed the US Capitol to try to stop the congressional certification.
After the insurrection, Brooks called for “the Capitol attack perpetrators” to be “prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.” But he also falsely suggested that left-wing Antifa activists “orchestrated” the attack. Two Democrats introduced a resolution to censure Brooks for his comments at the rally.
Brooks has offered no regrets for his remarks at the January 6 rally.
“I did my duty for my country,” he told CNN in March.
In a speech launching his Senate campaign that same month, Brooks, 66, lambasted cancel culture, “tech censorship,” the skyrocketing rise of the national debt, the media, transgender rights and undocumented immigrants crossing the southern border. He attacked the Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill for providing $5 billion to farmers of color, claiming, “The socialist Democrat message: Whites need not apply.” He then said that “all racism is repugnant,” and that people should be judged by their characters rather than their races.
He also mentioned that he had “led the charge” to overturn the 2020 election, had been twice endorsed by Trump and had stood by Trump twice during two impeachments — and that “no other candidate” can say that.
CNN’s Manu Raju contributed to this report.