Alabama congressman Mo Brooks has always been a sort of cross between the right-wing extremists who have represented his state over the centuries and cartoon character Foghorn Leghorn. Here at New York, we have regularly filled slow news days with posts on Brooks’s zanier claims, ranging from really dumb climate-change-denial theories, to an admission that he didn’t think sick people morally deserved access to affordable health care, to his identification of Democrats with Hitler on the grounds that they and the great murderer of leftists both embraced “socialism.” Brooks was one of the most zealous of advocates for Donald Trump’s lies about the “stolen” 2020 election, comparing Biden’s prospective inauguration to Lincoln’s in its Civil War–provoking insuperability, leading the fight in Congress to overturn the results, and then speaking at the January 6 “stop the steal” rally in Washington before his listeners proceeded to the Capitol to do what they were told.
Now, instead of trying to keep a low profile for a bit, Brooks is asking for a promotion, by announcing a run for the U.S. Senate seat being abandoned by retiring Republican Richard Shelby. The big moment came at a gun club in his home town of Huntsville, and Brooks was proudly accompanied by former Trump immigrant-tormenter Stephen Miller, who told the crowd he envied them for having the chance to vote for the old demagogue. Brooks probably does remind Miller of his former boss Jeff Sessions before that other Alabama arch-reactionary got sideways with the 45th president.
Brooks also released an announcement video that makes it clear he is not hiding his extremist light under a bushel. The video features images of him at the January 6 rally, photos with Trump too numerous to count, and statements of praise from Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. He makes extraordinarily redundant assertions about his devotion to “Alabama values” like gun rights, low taxes, strong borders, “the sanctity of life,” and the irrepressible fight against “radical socialists.” He boasts of past endorsements from every right-wing group you’ve ever heard of, and preens about his status as a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus.
You have to figure Brooks is still sore about his last Senate race, in the 2017 special election to replace Sessions. He got chewed up on one side by Trump endorsee Luther Strange, who hammered him for blaspheming Trump while campaigning for Ted Cruz in 2016, and outflanked on the other by the great theocrat Judge Roy Moore (whom Brooks endorsed in Moore’s runoff race against Strange). Nobody’s is going to out-MAGA Mo Brooks this time around, and there really cannot be much room to his right.
If, as some observers believe, Trump’s hold on the GOP is already beginning to weaken, you’d never know it from the Republicans of the Deep South. Mo Brooks is only an outlier in that he seems afraid that primary voters may forget exactly how radical he has been and for how long. We can now expect many fine moments of unintentional comedy on the 2022 campaign trail.