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Brooks seen as ‘tough to beat’ after announcing Senate run

U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, said he plans to secure America’s borders and fight socialism if he is elected to represent the state in the U.S. Senate replacing retiring Sen. Richard Shelby.

The 86-year-old Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, announced in February he would not seek reelection in 2022 for the seat he has held since 1987.

“America’s status as the greatest nation in the world is at risk because of policies in place by these socialists,” said Brooks, 66, speaking Monday evening at a Huntsville gun range. “Our economy is the envy of the world.”

Stephen Miller, who was a senior adviser for former President Donald Trump, introduced Brooks at Monday night’s rally.

“Nobody has fought harder to protect our borders than Mo Brooks,” he said. “In the past four years, nobody has had President Trump’s back more than Mo Brooks.”

A political newcomer has also announced plans to seek Shelby’s seat.

Lynda Blanchard, a Montgomery native and former ambassador to Slovenia appointed by Trump, announced on Feb. 18 her intention to run for the Senate seat. Trump attended a fundraiser she held earlier this month. Others sometimes mentioned as potential candidates are Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill and Shelby’s former chief of staff, Katie Boyd Britt, who now heads an influential business lobby.

On Monday afternoon, Merrill said he is also considering a Senate run.

“I expect we’ll make an announcement in the first or second week of April,” he said. “I think Congressman Brooks is a very formidable candidate. He brings a certain something that makes him a viable candidate for the job.”

Jess Brown, a retired Athens State political science professor who analyzes Alabama politics, said Brooks will be “tough to beat” in the Republican primary in March 2022, in part because of his allegiance to Trump.

“Trump has support in Alabama and it is a fiercely loyal group,” Brown said. “It reminds me of (Gov. George) Wallace loyalty in the 1960s.”

Brown said former Sen. Doug Jones, D-Birmingham, lost to political newcomer Tommy Tuberville, R-Auburn, in November because of the strong foothold Republicans have in the state.

“Doug Jones has truckloads of money, but Alabama is one of the top four or five red states and certainly one of the top four or five pro-Trump states in the country,” he said. “I believe the GOP nominee will be our next U.S. senator. There will have to be a dramatic turn of events for a Republican not to win. … The GOP is not quite what it was here about 10 years ago, but you’ll get 58% to 62% of the vote if you get Daffy Duck on the ballot as a Republican.”

Brown said Brooks’ campaign has the money, message and manpower to put him in a Senate seat.

State Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, said he feels Brooks’ chances of winning the Senate seat are linked to him garnering Trump’s endorsement.

Orr said he’s been told he should enter the 5th Congressional District race, but Alabama doesn’t even know if it will keep all seven of its House seats following reapportionment.

“I have a lot of people call me from each of the five counties in the district encouraging me to run,” he said. “I’m focused on the legislative session at present. It is also important whether Alabama will be losing a congressional seat next year as many have predicted.”

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