At a candidate forum in Wetumpka this week, U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks went on the defensive over a controversial vote to cut off funding in the fight against Islamic terrorism.
Opponents were quick to point that the vote by the Huntsville Republican put him squarely on the side of House Democrats.
On Monday, the Wetumpka TEA Party hosted a “Top-Three” U.S. Senate Forum — inviting the three leading candidates polling “over 20 percent by professional polling firms” in the Republican Senate primary, which is now less than two weeks away.
Brooks, Sen. Luther Strange and former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore were each invited.
Strange was a no-show, telling the group he had to stay in Washington D.C. to consider the nomination of attorney Kevin Newsome as District Judge for Alabama’s 11th circuit Court of Appeals. The Senate confirmed Newsome the next day.
A video taken at the forum shows Brooks asking “How many of you have seen that ad out there that says I’m supporting the Islamic state?” before admitting he voted against funding in the fight against ISIS.
Brooks’ statement seemed to confirm an earlier attack ad from the Senate Leadership Fund, the super PAC connected to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. SLF is firmly behind Strange in the hotly contested Aug. 15 primary, spending millions of dollars in advertising to support the incumbent and against Brooks and Moore.
In an email to supporters, SLF blasted Brooks — the “embattled congressman” — pointing out Brooks was “the only member of the Alabama congressional delegation to vote with [Democratic Minority Leader] Nancy Pelosi.”
Defending his actions to the staunchly conservative audience, Brooks explained he believed the president shouldn’t have the power to fight ISIS unless Congress gives permission.
“This fits the consistent pattern of Brooks’ strident opposition to President Trump since early 2016 and as recently as last week,” the SLF says. Home busy one:
The event, held at Wetumpka Civic Center, was moderated by Montgomery’s News Talk radio host Dan Morris, a former advance man for President Ronald Reagan.
After the debate, a straw poll gave first-place to Moore (139 votes). Brooks took second with 103 votes, and Alabama Christian Coalition president Randy Brinson was third with 18 votes. There were 15 undecideds. No-show Strange and state Sen. Tripp Pittman of Baldwin County tied for fifth, with four votes each.
Alabama voters have until Aug. 10 to apply for an absentee ballot for the primary. If there is no primary winner — with 50 percent plus one — a runoff is Sept. 26; the general election is Dec. 12.
Given Alabama’s strong Republican lean, whoever wins the primary — either outright or in the runoff — will most likely represent the state in the U.S. Senate.