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With Senate hopes in question, Brooks appoints new campaign staff

In the wake of a disappointing few months on the campaign trail, Congressman Mo Brooks has announced several additions to his campaign.

Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., conducts a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center on the Fire Fauci Act, which aims to strip the salary of Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, for his handling of COVID-19 on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

In the wake of a disappointing few months on the campaign trail, Congressman Mo Brooks, R-Alabama, has announced several additions to his campaign for U.S Senate, including the pollster who predicted former President Donald Trump’s victory in 2016 and a Republican operative who called the former president a “short-fingered vulgarian.”

According to the most recent internal polls, Brooks is narrowly behind fellow U.S Senate candidate Katie Britt, a former chief of staff for outgoing U.S Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama. Britt also lapped Brooks in campaign contributions, raising nearly $1.5 million in the third quarter of fundraising, while Brooks’ raised less than $670,000 in the same period, according to third-quarter fundraising numbers reported in October.

Jon Jones and Terry Allen, the two original campaign consultants for Brooks, were fired in the previous weeks, according to Vice, with Jones stating he “left on very amicable terms” with Brooks.

The new group consists of Robert Cahaly, a member of the Atlanta-based Trafalgar Group, who will serve as senior advisor and pollster; Fred Davis, a veteran ad maker previously connected with U.S. Sen Richard Shelby’s last campaign for Senate, who will serve as media strategist; Ethan Elion, a former campaign staffer for Brook’s in 2017, who will serve as senior advisor “with an emphasis on digital strategy and voter contact,” according to the campaign; and Forrest Barnwell-Hagemeyer, a Republican political operative from Tennessee who helped Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee move into the governor’s mansion in 2018, who will serve as campaign manager.

In a statement from the campaign Friday, Brooks’ Campaign Chairman Stan McDonald described the group as “the A-team,” and said: “Alabama Trump conservatives are now united and looking forward to electing President Trump’s pick, Mo Brooks, to the United States Senate,” despite being divided in 2017.

In 2016, Cahaly’s Trafalgar group correctly predicted that former President Trump would upset former Secretary of State and U.S. Senator from New York Hilary Clinton for the presidency, the lone pollster to do so during the election cycle. However, later during the 2020 presidential election, Trafalgar failed to predict current President Joe Biden’s victory, instead predicting a second term for Trump.

During the 2020 U.S presidential elections, Trafalgar was the second most accurate in margins compared to final results, according to FiveThirtyEight, despite criticisms over lack of transparency in polling.

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“Robert Cahaly understands the America-First agenda and the Trump voter better than anyone in the GOP today,” McDonald said in a statement made Friday.

In April, former President Trump formally endorsed Brooks’ run at the U.S Senate, an endorsement widely viewed as a political reward for Brooks’ opposition to ratifying the results of the 2020 election. Brooks was the first member of Congress to announce his objection to the election results and has since been alleged as an organizer of the “Stop the Steal” rally, which later turned into a deadly attempted insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

As Brooks’ campaign continues to take water against challengers in the Alabama Senate race, Trump has expressed disappointment in Brooks’ performance, according to Politico. The move to hire Trump critic Forrest Barnwell-Hagemeyer as campaign manager can be seen as a move away from the former president since similar Senate races in Alaska and North Carolina prove a Trump endorsement is no guarantee of victory in Republican states.

Barnwell-Hagemeyer described Trump as a “divisive, short-fingered vulgarian” and in 2020 shared a Facebook post from U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska, which harshly criticized Trump-backers in Congress planning to object to the presidential election results.

In 2020, Barnwell-Hagemeyer previously managed former Republican Senate candidate Dr. Manny Sethi, who ran on the “outsider-Republican” ticket in a crowded Republican primary against the eventual victory, and Trump endorsed Sen. Bill Hagerty, R-Tennessee.

Despite this, Barnwell-Hagemeyer was quoted in an article from Vice that he voted for Trump in 2016 and again in 2020, further stating that he wishes Trump “was in the White House right now.”

A campaign adviser for then Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s 2016 presidential was ad-man Fred Davis, now media consultant and ad-maker for the Brooks’ campaign. 

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Chairman Stan McDonald described Davis as “simply the best ad man in the business,” further stating that Davis “knows how to win in Alabama.” Davis’ extensive client list includes former President George W. Bush, former Republican presidential candidates Dan Quayle, John McCain, and John Kasich, and numerous past and present members of Congress.

Famous for his creative and sometimes controversial approach to political ads, the colloquially named “I’m not a witch” ad for former U.S. Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell’s unsuccessful Senate campaign in 2010, and the “Demon Sheep” ad for former U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina failed Senate campaign, also in 2010, are among his most famous and internationally spoofed ads.

Conversely, Davis crafted a series of well-received political adverts while working for Shelby during his last campaign for U.S Senate, detailing Shelby’s on bank bailouts, Iran, and the Obama White House.

“Fred Davis, my media guy put together some very good ads,” Shelby said in a statement after his victory in 2016.

Last Week, Brooks appeared before a local Republican Party breakfast meeting in Cullman, insisting conservatives must “look forward” past the 2020 election, a statement similar to one made previously in the city during a Trump rally in August that nearly got him booed off the stage.

“We’ve got to look forward,” Brooks said. “So that’s our challenge. Whatever happened yesterday or the day before, or if you’re an Auburn fan, what happened last Saturday, you can’t change. But by golly, you can win the next Iron Bowl–, That’s the solution. That’s the way to fix it.”

 

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Correction: An earlier version of this article stated Forrest Barnwell-Hagemeyer worked on former Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s 2016 Presidential Campaign. Barnwell-Hagemeyer confirmed to APR that he did not work for Gov. Kasich. 

Written By

John is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can contact him at [email protected] or via Twitter.

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