Yellowhammer News on Thursday learned that State Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs) will be the first of Alabama’s 2020 U.S. Senate candidates to go up on television with an advertisement.
A source with direct knowledge confirmed to Yellowhammer News that the ad buy will be in the six-figures and begin in the next day. The buy will be statewide and run for a week.
Yellowhammer News has also obtained an online link to the ad, which can be viewed below.
The ad, put together by nationally renowned political media guru Fred Davis, centers on Mooney’s Christian faith.
However, the video might be most memorable for one very specific moment.
No spoilers — this is an ad you have to see for yourself to get the full effect.
In a statement to Yellowhammer News about the ad, Mooney commented, “The death, burial and resurrection of Christ is the most important thing in my life and guides my whole world view.”
“I want Alabama Christians to know I am the candidate in this race who will stand for them, that they can rely on,” he added.
Taking a look at the race
Mooney is serving his second term in the Alabama House of Representatives, representing parts of Shelby County.
He has been endorsed by the Senate Conservatives Fund and national conservative leaders like U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) and media pundit Mark Levin in the GOP Senate primary. Mooney, who also has the support of Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05), qualified with the Alabama Republican Party on Tuesday. Qualifying ends on November 8.
Mooney is in a competitive field of declared candidates, led by former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville, Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01), former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore and Secretary of State John Merrill.
Due to low name identification, Mooney has been consistently polling within the margin of error of zero in the race.
However, this ad buy signals a strategy to raise his name identification and introduce voters to Mooney as a Christian conservative. With polling at this point in the campaign being driven mainly by name identification, Mooney could move his poll numbers closer to the rest of the pack if the ad buy works as intended.
Moore is — and has been for almost two decades now — running in the evangelical lane, and Mooney could very well want to give those voters a more electable alternative with less baggage.
However, as a fresh face on the statewide stage, he will also hope to brand himself as more than just a strong evangelical, as absorbing some of Moore’s base will not nearly be enough on its own for Mooney to make a runoff.
If the current ad buy is successful, the next hurdle for Mooney will be eating into another occupied lane — namely, the “America First” one that constitutes the biggest internal GOP battlefield right now.
Beyond Mooney’s own campaign, the ad buy could serve as a marker for other candidates to get more aggressive — whether that means a digital ad buy or something else to capture the attention of a significant number of voters.
Tuberville has carved out his place as leader of the GOP field in the race to unseat Senator Doug Jones (D-AL), and the other campaigns are currently jockeying for the second-place position in a runoff.
There are currently 144 days until the March 3 primary, yet much of that time will be over the holiday season in which fundraising and reaching voters gets significantly harder.
The latest finance reports, covering the third fundraising quarter of 2019, are due on Tuesday.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn