Politics

Brooks Declines to Endorse Moore or Strange After Conceding Defeat

Congressman announces he will seek re-election after finishing third in Senate race

Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., finished third after receiving 20 percent of the vote in the Republican primary Tuesday for Alabama's special election to the U.S. Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Mo Brooks is moving on after a distant third-place finish in the Republican primary on Tuesday for the Alabama Senate special election.

And Brooks is doing that without endorsing either of the two men, Judge Roy Moore and appointed Sen. Luther Strange, who beat him to enter a runoff on Sept. 26 to decide the GOP nominee.

Brooks announced to a gathering of more than 200 supporters he will seek re-election to his U.S. House seat from Alabama’s 5th District, where he faces a primary challenge from Iraq veteran Clayton Hinchman.

Moore, the former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, captured 39 percent of the primary vote, per the Associated Press. Strange, who replaced former Sen. Jeff Sessions when Sessions was appointed U.S. attorney general in February, garnered 33 percent, and Brooks collected 20 percent.

Around 9:15 p.m., Brooks addressed his supporters to concede defeat. During his remarks, the four-term U.S. representative spoke more favorably of Moore than of Strange.

“I want to compliment Judge Roy Moore on the high quality race he ran,” Brooks said. “He ran a very honest campaign. Perhaps most importantly, a very honorable campaign.”

His compliments to Strange were more backhanded. Brooks chided Strange for having millions of dollars pumped into his campaign by powerful lobbying firms in Washington and the Senate Leadership Fund, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s super PAC.

“Another candidate also made the runoff, and I want to congratulate Luther Strange for having fought very, very, very hard,” Brooks said. “Equally important, I want to congratulate the people who were behind him — Mitch McConnell, the Washington establishment, the K Street lobbyists. They put together some very tough ads knowing full well I was not in position to respond. Accolades must go to those who fight as hard as they fought.”

The primary battle was heated between Strange and Brooks, who accused Strange of “corruptly and unethically [holding] a criminal investigation over the head of disgraced Governor Bentley to obtain the Senate appointment,” and dubbed McConnell the “Swamp King” and Strange as his “lap dog” in an ad last week.

U.S. attorney Doug Jones, also from the 5th District, won the Democratic primary, carrying 66 percent of the vote.

If Brooks can beat his primary challengers for the 5th District seat, he’s in position to win a fifth term there. He snatched up more than two-thirds of the vote in 2016.

Hinchman told Roll Call the results Tuesday from the 5th District indicated a crease from which a new candidate can emerge.

“If you look at voter turnout, I think it told an interesting story about the five different counties we have and their potential support — or lack thereof,” the North Alabama businessman said. “I look forward to facing Congressman Brooks, and I hope it’s a very competitive race as we get our message out there.”

The primary for the 5th District will be held in June.

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