By Sam Prickett
Arnold Mooney says he is running for U.S. Senate because he wants to put Alabama – and America – “back to where we need to be.”
“This race is about the future,” he said. “I look around and I see a rising tide of socialism on the left, and I personally feel like, if we don’t do something to turn this ship around, we’re not going to leave our children and grandchildren a country that we recognize – and certainly they won’t recognize it. The freedoms we’ve enjoyed can’t be transmitted through the bloodstream. We can’t do an injection. It has to be taught, it has to be protected for each new generation – and that’s why I’m running.”
For Mooney, an Indian Springs resident who has represented north Shelby County in the Alabama House of Representatives since 2014, the 2020 Senate race is about reversing the results of 2017’s special Senate election, in which Democrat Doug Jones beat out Republican Roy Moore in a surprise win. Jones was the first Democrat to win an Alabama Senate seat in 25 years.
Mooney was involved with that election, but not as a candidate; he chaired the unsuccessful campaign for U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, who placed third in the Republican primary behind Moore and the then-incumbent senator, Luther Strange. Mooney maintains that Brooks lost only because of external influences who “made a circus out of that election.”
“If it hadn’t been for outside forces coming down here and messing around in our primary, we’d have a strong, Constitutional conservative senator,” he said.
Now, he wants to fill that role.
Mooney joins a slew of Republican candidates looking to challenge Jones for his seat, including U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, former Auburn Tigers football head coach Tommy Tuberville, Secretary of State John Merrill, businessman Stanley Adair and Moore. Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler, U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer and a handful of other Republicans are mulling running, as well. Former U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions also has not ruled out running for the seat he gave up to accept appointment as U.S. attorney general.
Claiming the ‘Outsider’ Territory
How will Mooney set himself apart from such a crowded field? He’s positioning himself as an “outsider” to the Washington establishment, someone who “will be the same guy the day I walk in as the day that I walk out.
“I just don’t believe in running for office for its own sake or to seek power,” he said. “I think when people hear our message, that I’m a strong constitutional conservative with a record of standing up to the establishment in Montgomery and (with) the courage and backbone to do it in Washington, we’re going to do very well,” he said. “That’s what I believe Alabama wants now.”
Mooney is running on his background in the state Legislature. He said that his vote against Gov. Kay Ivey’s 10-cent gas tax hike, which was signed into law in March, shows his willingness to stand up for conservative values, even against Republican leadership. Mooney was one of 18 Republican no votes in the state House.
“We believe very strongly that there needed to be not just a tax to help infrastructure, but it needed to be transparent and accountable,” Mooney said. “We obviously needed competition, because competition is the mother of invention and that’s what gives us the opportunity to move forward very well.”
He also mentions several bills he has sponsored, including one this year that would have provided an income tax refund check-off for contributions to We Build the Wall Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to fundraising for President Donald Trump’s proposed southern border wall. That bill and its sister bill in the state Senate bogged down in April.
Still, Mooney sees it as a declaration of his priorities.
“I’m going to fight for the president’s agenda, and a big part of that is building the wall and fighting for American workers,” he said. “That’s what he ran on, that’s what he was elected on, and it’s time to build that wall and protect our nation’s southern border.”
Mooney has also been a vocal opponent of abortion and voted in favor of the controversial “Human Life Protection Act,” which was signed into law by Gov. Kay Ivey in May and drew national controversy for placing a near-total ban on abortions in Alabama, with no exceptions for rape or incest.
“I’m a person who’s deeply dedicated to protecting life from conception to natural death, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” he said.
The abortion debate is a wedge issue for Mooney. He uses it as an argument that Doug Jones is not a moderate centrist, as Jones has often claimed he is.
“My suggestion to you or to anyone else would be to look at the record of Doug Jones and what he’s voted for,” he said. “He’s voted against life, he’s voted for abortion up to literally the end of the process of birth. Doug Jones’ record is clear. He is not a conservative. He’s not a moderate. He’s a liberal and that’s where he stands, and that’s who supports him.”
Throughout his campaign, Mooney also hopes to highlight issues including the “great, great threat” of China, which he said means “getting serious about our national debt … so we can deal with China diplomatically, and with trade as well.”
One promise Mooney makes is that, if Alabamians do send him to Washington, he won’t stay there for too long. He’s adamant that he will push for Congressional term limits, even if it might be a futile effort.
“It’s absolutely ridiculous that 70% of the American people support term limits, yet we can’t get a vote on it,” he said. “I’m going to make sure that we get one so that everybody in Washington, D.C., is put on record. If I have to, I’ll read the phone book on the Senate floor.”