Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, has endorsed Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) in the Alabama special election to select a U.S. Senator for the seat previously held by Jeff Sessions, now the Attorney General of the United States.
The primary election will be held on August 15, and the general election will take place on December 12. If there is no outright winner of the August 15 primary, a runoff will be held on September 26. The winner of the Republican primary election is highly likely to win the December general election, given Alabama’s recent electoral history.
“Mo Brooks is a fighter. He has the most conservative voting record in the Alabama congressional delegation. He’s got an A-rating from Numbers USA and the NRA. He has proven himself to be a proven constitutional conservative in the mold of Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Rand Paul and Ben Sasse,” Meadows wrote in an email sent to supporters of Brooks by his campaign.
“We need more like him in the Senate,” Meadows continued:
Mo is a battle-tested conservative who is committed to restoring America’s greatness. . .
The establishment sees Mo as a real threat. They would like nothing better than to see Mo defeated and they’re pulling out all the stops to make sure he doesn’t win. . .
The road our country has been on these last several years is simply not sustainable. We need conservatives who will go to the Senate and be a part of the fight–not part of the club.
“I’m all in to help Mo Brooks defeat the DC establishment and send him to the Senate. I hope you are too,” Meadows concluded.
When Brooks announced his candidacy last month, he said, “I offer one thing no one else offers: honest, proven conservative leadership. While other candidates may claim the conservative mantle, I am the only candidate who has a long-term voting record that proves I not only talk the conservative talk, I also walk the conservative walk.”
The Republican field is crowded with nine other candidates, including incumbent Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL), former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, State Senator Trip Pittman, and the Christian Coalition’s Randy Brinson.
Eight candidates filed to compete for the Democratic nomination, including former U.S. Attorney Doug Jones.
“On February 9, 2017, Gov. Robert Bentley appointed Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange to temporarily fill the vacancy,” Ballotpedia reported.
The special election was initially scheduled by Gov. Bentley to take place at the same time as the regularly scheduled elections in 2018. However, after Bentley’s resignation, Gov. Kay Ivey rescheduled the election to take place in 2017. Ivey said of the decision, “This is not a hastily-made decision. I consulted legal counsel, the finance director, Speaker McCutcheon, Senate President Del Marsh, and both budget chairmen since the cost to the General Fund could be great. However, following the law trumps the expense of a special election.”
Both Brooks and Judge Moore are popular among Alabama conservatives, but Moore is hampered by a lack of fundraising and the unusual circumstances surrounding his resignation from the Alabama Supreme Court.
The incumbent Strange is an establishment moderate, who is backed by the Senate Leadership Fund, a PAC associated with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). He is hampered, however, by the circumstances surrounding his appointment to Sessions’ former seat by the disgraced former Governor Robert Bentley, also a Republican.
As Breitbart News reported previously:
The Senate Leadership Fund is attempting to paint Strange as a reformer, but that narrative is facing heightened scrutiny in light of the manner in which Strange was appointed to the Senate in February.
Sessions was re-elected to a full six-year term in November. On February 9, former Gov. Robert Bentley appointed Strange, who was the Alabama attorney general at the time, to fill Sessions’ seat; he was sworn in on February 11. Bentley set the special election in which voters would select the senator to fill the remainder of Sessions’ term for November 2018.
Bentley, however, resigned in disgrace on April 10. Strange, as Alabama attorney general, chose not to prosecute Bentley for the conduct which ultimately led to his resignation.
The Ellis Insight, however, reports Strange has a possible advantage in “that all of his three major opponents — seven minor Republicans also filed [six after one withdrew on May 24] — come from the far right of the ideological spectrum”:
Often times in modern day primaries this is an asset, but, in this instance, too many contenders are drawing upon the same voter segment. Such a division should help Sen. Strange secure a position for a run-off, but whether or not he can score an outright win in the Aug. 15 primary is difficult to predict at this early juncture.
One person the new candidate configuration could help is Congressman Brooks. His goal is to convince the anti-Strange Republican voters, particularly those who may feel the senator’s appointment from the scandal-tarred Gov. Bentley was tainted, to coalesce around his own candidacy. Rep. Brooks may be able to develop sufficient support not only to deny Strange an outright victory, but also qualify against him for a Sept. 26 run-off. In this scenario, since Strange would have fallen short of majority support within the party, the interim senator would be vulnerable facing one challenger in a run-off setting.
With a little more than two months to go before the August 15 Republican primary, the race is shaping up as a competition between Brooks, Strange, and Moore for the top two spots to qualify for a possible September 26 runoff.
With virtually no public polling available however, projections about the outcome of that primary are little more than speculation at this point.