By GREG MARKLEY
At 7:09 EST on June 14, 2017, shots rang out at a baseball stadium in Alexandria, Virginia, in a case of domestic terrorism. That morning, 24 Republican congressmen were practicing for a charity game against Democrats. Six people were injured, most seriously House Majority Whip Steve Scalise. A former star high school baseball player from Huntsville, Alabama, used his belt as a tourniquet to stop bleeding for a congressional staffer who had been shot in the calf.
Mo Brooks, of Alabama’s 5th Congredssional District, applied pressure to stanch the blood flow. Scalise went to the hospital and all the wounded survived (the shooter died on-site). He was from the Far Left and his “assassinations list” contained Brooks’ name. The incident confirmed what Brooks knew: always guard against extremists and seize opportunities that arise.
“I came into politics and especially this Senate race for a number of reasons,” Brooks told me recently in the house he and his wife Martha designed. “Reform free entitlements and stop socialism, fix the southern border and cut federal spending. We need to stop the socialism that is rampant in the Democratic Party.”
Now in his sixth term, Brooks is a member of the Armed Services Committee and the Committee on Science, Space and Technology. On the latter committee, he is second among the Republicans in ranking. He said Huntsville has grown because of the teamwork with Sen. Richard Shelby, who serves as chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee.
Brooks has been consistent in advocating for less expenditures in the federal government and fewer wasteful programs. In July, he asserted that “Washington Debt Junkies can’t kick the habit. They continue to continue to push financial insanity to new heights by adding $480 billion to America’s debt limit. America’s debt will soon blow through the $30 trillion mark. That is roughly $90,000 in debt for every man, woman and child in America.”
It is unusual, where every candidate in this four person Republican Primary generally race plays the Trump card. Three search for a formula separating them from the rest, not in as a Trumpist but in another way (Senate staff experience — Kaite Britt; military background—Mike Durant; and a key 2nd Amendment endorsement — Jessica Taylor). Meanwhile, there have been medium-size disagreements with the only Trump-backed one, Mo Brooks.
The media and House investigators are intrigued that Brooks confirmed he was wearing body armor when addressing the crowd at the Capitol on Jan. 6. They say he suited up knowing that the maddening insurrection would occur — that he was part of the scheme.
What short memories! Remember that Brooks himself was on the “hit-list” of the attempted assassin at the baseball practice in Virginia, just three-plus years before. If that disturbed man was targeting Brooks, a well-known and sometimes controversial figure, what other madman or woman might be there? Isn’t that reason to protect yourself, not because you expected a riot?
All this should not downplay that nearly disastrous day for our republic. Recall that leaders such as Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall made it clear they were not fans of the violence. “I condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the actions of those who today attempted to storm the Capitol, where passionate but peaceful protestors had gathered and lawmakers debated inside,” he said.
Brooks himself later that day minced no words describing the situation and the miscreants.
“The violence at the U.S. Capitol today is despicable, un-American, and tears at the fabric of our great republic. As a strong supporter of the rule of law, and as a former target of Socialist Democrat gunfire myself, I don’t care what political views motivate the violence.”
In a poll released Dec. 13, the Senate race was tightening as Britt was tightening the contest with 26 percent compared to Brooks’ 31 percent. Further bad news for the congressman was that those polled preferred a political outsider over a seasoned politician, by 68 percent to 12 percent. Yet Brooks had been delayed in his “retail” (or grass roots) campaign, because of congressional obligations in Washington, DC.
An open U.S. Senate seat comes along rarely and there is usually fierce competition for such a coveted position (far more than for a U.S. House seat.) Candidates should work hard but relax consistently. Brooks daily plays table tennis for two hours with a senior staff member. For these two men, an “attacker” is a player who uses a large amount of attacking shots. As seen in the July 2017 shooting, in baseball an attack can be violent; you are lucky if Mo Brooks is around to help you recover from your injuries.
Greg Markley first moved to Lee County in 1996. He has Masters’ in education and history. He taught politics as an adjunct in Georgia and Alabama. An award-winning writer in the Army and civilian life, he has contributed to the Observer for 12 years. firstname.lastname@example.org