Elect Mark Bray to replace Mo Brooks

2014 Election Endorsement

Elect Mark Bray to replace Mo Brooks

Posted: Sunday, October 26, 2014 12:00 am | Updated: 6:47 pm, Sun Oct 26, 2014.

The Issue

The rhetoric of U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, has caused enough harm to Alabama and the Fifth District. Mark Bray, I-Huntsville, is a political newcomer, but he represents needed change.

North Alabama has endured the inflammatory rhetoric of U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks for too long. We endorse Mark Bray, I-Huntsville, for the Fifth District seat of the U.S. House of Representatives.

The contrast between incumbent Brooks and his predecessors is depressingly stark.

The template for past representatives provided huge benefits for north Alabama. Former Reps. Ronnie Flippo and Bud Cramer were behind-the-scenes players. They created alliances that benefited their districts while pushing legislation that their constituents favored.

What they did not do is make spectacles of themselves.

Like his predecessors, Brooks is an intelligent man. Unlike his predecessors, he devotes that intelligence to finding the spotlight. He is a darling of the national media, not because of his incisive commentary, but because of his inflammatory comments.

Not content to push for responsible immigration reform, Brooks attacked undocumented immigrants: “As your congressman on the House floor, I will do anything short of shooting them.”

During a congressional speech, Brooks accused House colleagues of being socialists, a remark he then withdrew from the House record.

Brooks, whose district has the highest frequency of tornadoes of any in the state and relies heavily on federal assistance when they hit, managed more headlines when voting against disaster relief after Hurricane Sandy struck New England. Taxpayers, he said, “should not have to fork out a nickel” to pay for property damage in areas historically vulnerable to storms.

In August, he entertained the national media by complaining about a “war on whites.” This from a representative of a state that still struggles to overcome the antics of another grandstanding politician who in 1963 sought the media spotlight on the steps of the University of Alabama. This from the representative of a state whose black citizens have a median household income of $29,210, compared to white citizens with a median household income $49,465.

Brooks’ voting record is at least as bad as his rhetoric. He advocated austerity in the face of recession, a formula that severely undermines the nation’s recovery. He joined forces with those who wanted to use the debt ceiling as an ideological tool, resulting in a government shutdown that hurt north Alabama and especially Redstone Arsenal more than almost any region of the nation.

Brooks has only one vote out of 435, so his voting record matters little. His “look at me!” style of leadership, however, has done great harm to his district and his state.

Alabama has made great strides in recent decades overcoming an international reputation for intolerance. Brooks’ actions help discourage national and international investment by dredging the past into the present,

Bray is a political unknown. He campaigns as a conservative, but he advocates practical solutions rather than ideological ones. As an engineer for NASA, he understands the importance of the federal government to north Alabama.

Maybe most important, Bray shows none of the self-aggrandizement that is at the core of Brooks’ political image. Bray sees common interests in the two parties, and as an independent he hopes to build bridges that will benefit the nation and his district.

Would Bray be successful in creating bipartisan political alliances that benefit his district, as were Flippo and Cramer? We don’t know. We do feel confident, however, that he will not engage in cheap political theater, and that he will not embarrass his district.

Coming Monday: Constitutional amendments 

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