(Quin Hillyer, Liberty Headlines) Attorney General Jeff Sessions is so popular in his home state of Alabama that a major contender for his old U.S. Senate seat is proposing that all candidates for the seat withdraw from the race in order to let Sessions re-take the office.
In one of the more bizarre special elections in recent U.S. history, this is the latest, and perhaps most bizarre, twist.
The candidate suggesting that he and everybody else should drop out from the August 15 Republican primary is U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, generally seen as one of the three leading contenders for two primary runoff spots. Polls reportedly show that the other two leading contenders are temporary incumbent Luther Strange and the state’s twice-evicted Supreme Court chief justice, Roy Moore. The fourth candidate (in a nine-candidate GOP field) seen as having an outside shot at the runoff is state Sen. Trip Pittman, who represents a Republican-heavy coastal county.
Brooks’s press release on Wednesday introduces a resolution whereby all nine candidates should withdraw from the race while Strange resigns from the Senate in favor of a gubernatorial re-appointment of Sessions to the seat – followed by the Republican state executive committee naming Sessions as its nominee for the special general election against whomever the Democrats nominate. This move in turn would, of course, allow President Trump, who has been verbally attacking Sessions for days, to try to find another national attorney general.
Brooks, meanwhile, would remain in the House. But Strange, the former state attorney general, would be entirely out of a job.
“An added benefit is that if Jeff Sessions returns to the U.S. Senate, he reenters the Senate with 20 years of seniority,” Brooks said. “That puts him in a compelling position to obtain key committee assignments and chairmanships, thereby empowering Jeff Sessions to best promote and protect the interests of Alabama and America.”
Liberty Headlines has reported before on the strange, and Strange, backdrop for this race. After Trump appointed Sessions as U.S. attorney general, former governor Robert Bentley appointed then-state AG Strange to Sessions’ seat – at the same time Strange’s office was investigating Bentley for allegations of official corruption of multiple kinds surrounding an alleged affair with Bentley’s top aide, Rebekah Mason. Only after Strange took the Senate job was Bentley removed from office after pleading guilty to some of the lesser charges being readied against him.
Moore, meanwhile, is a folk hero in some circles in Alabama, even considered a martyr, for twice losing his high-court seat while resisting federal judicial decisions. He has a strong political organization without needing much campaign cash to sustain it.
Brooks was not well known in the southern half of the state until, shortly after he entered the special election, he was the single closest witness to the gunman who shot House Majority Whip Steve Scalise at a baseball practice in June. Brooks’s helpfulness to the victims and calm-but-steely national TV interviews in the immediate aftermath suddenly vaulted him into the race’s top tier with Strange and Moore.
Brooks may have pushed things too far, though, when he released an ad in the past week featuring the sound of gunshots and video of Brooks at the ballfield immediately after the shooting. Several of Scalise’s staffers were quoted objecting to the ad as a “beyond perverse” attempt to capitalize on a tragedy.
National party insiders have thrown millions of dollars into the race on Strange’s behalf, most of it recently used for ads attacking Brooks for his criticisms of Trump during last year’s election. (Brooks had backed U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas for the Republican nomination.) The most recent reported poll seems to show those attacks were working, with Brooks, who reportedly had pulled even with Strange, now back in a weakening third position.
That poll, however, presumably was taken before the bulk of Trump’s repeated diatribes against Sessions. Suddenly, for Alabama voters’ protective of their hero Sessions, Brooks’s year-old criticism of Trump – Sessions’s current tormentor – might not look so bad. Brooks’s gambit of proposing that everyone withdraw from the race makes sure to further associate himself with Sessions.
“I have known Jeff Sessions since 1994. He is a good friend, a former boss who appointed me to be a Special Assistant Attorney General,” Brooks said in his release. “I was honored to receive Sessions’ endorsement the first time I ran for Congress in 2010. I have admired his courageous stands on immigration, the deficit and debt, on trade agreements, and his commitment to our America First agenda. He is a patriot who cares deeply about his country and the rule of law. I cannot remain silent about the treatment Jeff Sessions is receiving from President Trump.”
Then came the final twist, as Brooks simultaneously claimed to be Trump’s ally on policies but his critic concerning the Trump-Sessions battle.
“I support President Trump’s policies,” Brooks said, “but this public waterboarding of one of the greatest people Alabama has ever produced is inappropriate and insulting to the people of Alabama who know Jeff Sessions so well and elected him so often by overwhelming margins.”
So, to review: Brooks was against Trump before he was for him and he’s still for his policies but against Trump personally – and, Brooks reminds everybody, he was the hero when Scalise was shot. Strange, meanwhile, stands suspected of horrid ethics for taking a job from the same man he was investigating. He runs ads saying he’ll drain the very swamp that is funneling millions of dollars to his campaign. And Moore, the other main contender against the supposedly unethical Strange, was twice evicted from office on, yes, ethics charges.
Only the fourth major candidate, Pittman, seems immune to these ethical imbroglios. But he can’t get any traction, largely because he was the only man in the whole state Senate to vote against state funding for therapy for autism patients.
Given all of that, some in Alabama surely like Brooks’s suggestion that Sessions return to the Senate and put all this mess to rest.Click here for reuse options!
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