Politics

Brooks Gets a Second GOP Primary Challenger

State Sen. Bill Holtzclaw says the district is looking for an alternative to incumbent

Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., received a primary challenger in state Sen. Bill Holtzclaw. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks received a Republican primary challenger after his bruising Senate primary loss.

State Sen. Bill Holtzclaw announced Monday  he will challenge Brooks for the Republican nomination in Alabama’s 5th District, according to media reports.

Holtzclaw was elected to the state Senate in 2010 and re-elected to a second four-year term in 2014. Before his election to the Senate, he served on the Madison City Council from 2008 to 2010 and was council president before his election to the Senate.

He retired from the Marine Corps in 2003 after 20 years of service, first as an enlisted man before being selected as a warrant officer. He served in combat in Iraq in 1991 and in Somalia in 1992 and 1993.

Holtzclaw said a number of people said they would support him if he challenged Brooks.

“I had a groundswell of people say, “Will you please consider running, regardless,” he said.

Holtzclaw sold himself as better able to represent the district.

“We felt like the representation of this district, folks are looking for an alternative, that was evidenced here tonight and it’s going to be evident in the weeks ahead,” he told a crowd in his hometown of Madison.

Holtzclaw also made clear his support for President Donald Trump, but when asked about Brooks’ support of the president, he said, “Only Congressman Brooks could answer that.”

Two hours before the announcement, Holtzclaw and Brooks sat near each other at an announcement the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, but neither said a word to each other.

Last week, Brooks missed the runoff for the Republican primary for Alabama’s special election to fill Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Senate seat.

Brooks finished third to former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore and incumbent Sen. Luther Strange, who was appointed by former Gov. Robert Bentley.

Throughout the primary campaign, the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC backed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, accused Brooks for being insufficiently supportive of Trump.

For his part, Brooks tried tying himself to Trump, launching a “Drain the Swamp” bus tour, using Trump's campaign slogan, and using the bus Trump used when he visited Alabama.

Clayton Hinchman, an Iraq War vet, has also announced that he will challenge Brooks in the Republican primary. Democrats Butler Cain, chair of the communications department at the University of North Alabama, and former Huntsville city attorney Peter Joffrion have also announced campaigns against Brooks, AL.com reported.

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