Hooper: Alabama ‘at the top of the list’ for National Republican Senatorial Committee
A pair of Alabama Republicans spent some quality time with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) last week and, in the process, gained some insight into the native Alabamian’s view of the state’s 2020 U.S. Senate race.
Paul Wellborn, chairman, president and CEO of Wellborn Cabinet, Inc., and Trump Finance Committee member Perry O. Hooper, Jr. met with McConnell at an event held at McConnell’s Washington, D.C. townhouse.
Hooper shared with Yellowhammer News some details of their conversation with McConnell.
This was Hooper’s first encounter with Kentucky’s senior senator, and he left impressed.
“It was a good meeting, a productive meeting and very informative,” Hooper explained. “I’m very close to the president’s family but this was the first time I have ever met the majority leader. He’s a great guy. I don’t think he gets enough credit for the great things.”
Being from the Florence, Alabama area, McConnell has a special affinity for the Yellowhammer State, according to Hooper, and this has had an impact on his view of the campaign landscape.
“He loves the state of Alabama, and he doesn’t want to get caught up in all the craziness that happened last time,” he said. “He loves this state and he was thrilled to see that Roy Moore’s numbers had dropped in the last poll to about 13%. It’s not like he doesn’t like Roy Moore, he simply wants someone who can win and beat Doug Jones.”
For his part, Hooper says he offered McConnell his own assessment of the race and the candidates.
“Bradley Byrne is a very good friend,” he said. “When my dad passed away, he took a moment of silence on the House floor and praised my dad in front of the United States Congress.”
Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) was one of two candidates about whom Hooper says he spoke with McConnell.
“I talked about him and I talked to him about Tommy [Tuberville],” said Hooper. “What’s going to appeal to people about Tommy is that he is an outsider. He would do a great job, as well. In my opinion, either one of them could beat Doug Jones. John Merrill is a friend of mine but his name didn’t come up.”
Reminding the majority leader of the state’s political and cultural interests was part of Hooper’s assessment.
“I told him, ‘Majority Leader, one thing about Alabama, every poll shows that the favorability of Donald J. Trump is so high it falls off the table,” he reinforced to McConnell. “So Alabama is all about Donald J. Trump and SEC college football. So that’s what makes Tommy Tuberville so popular.’”
And he says he offered an honest evaluation of what he believes are the strengths and weaknesses of each.
“I talked about ‘Fear the Thumb’ and how that could be a concern for Tommy,” Hooper said. “But I think in one of those polls when people were asked if they were for Alabama they said it didn’t have a negative impact on Tommy. I told [McConnell] that funny thing Tommy did with [Paul] Finebaum about how he’s the reason they hired the greatest coach in America, and the majority leader busted out laughing on that one.”
“I did tell them, ‘Both of them are good guys and I love them both but Tommy has $10 million worth of name ID and he hasn’t spent a cent,'” Hooper emphasized. “Bradley is from way down there in south Alabama and it’s hard to win from down there. The subject did come up about Bradley having been such a great Congressman, why doesn’t he stay in the seat and pursue a leadership position in the House. I hate to lose him in the House.”
Republicans in Washington faced criticism for intervening in the Republican primary during the 2017 special election. However, according to Hooper, they may engage again if one particular candidate gains momentum.
“They told me they were definitely going to get involved if Roy Moore’s numbers got into the 20s or 30s or whatever,” he explained. “They don’t want to go through this same process again and lose. The seat is extremely important to keeping the majority.”
Hooper made sure to highlight where the state stands in the pecking order of states where Senate Republicans say they want to win.
“Alabama is with two or three other states at the top of the list,” he conveyed.
Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News