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Firebrand Congressman Mo Brooks, a Trump ally, launches U.S. Senate run

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Representative Mo Brooks of Alabama, a close ally of former President Donald Trump who helped lead a Republican effort to challenge the 2020 presidential election results in Congress, announced on Monday he will run for U.S. Senate in 2022.

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The staunch conservative launched his campaign at a rally in Huntsville, Alabama, where he was joined by former Trump adviser Stephen Miller.

Brooks previously said he had spoken to Trump about a possible Senate run. An endorsement from Trump, who easily won Alabama over President Joe Biden in November’s presidential election, would likely make Brooks the favorite in the race to replace the retiring Republican Senator Richard Shelby, 86.

Miller, the chief architect of Trump’s hardline anti-immigration policies, has ties to Alabama, having served as a top adviser to the state’s longtime former U.S. senator, Jeff Sessions.

Brooks, 66, backed Trump’s false claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election and spoke at a Trump rally that preceded the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot, when violent Trump supporters stormed Congress in an attempt to overturn Biden’s victory. The violence, which left five people dead, led to Trump’s second impeachment in the House of Representatives and acquittal in the Senate.

At Monday’s rally, Brooks again asserted that Trump was the victim of fraud, claiming that the 2020 contest saw the “worst voter fraud and election theft in history.”

Election officials and judges in multiple states found no evidence of major improprieties.

After encouraging “patriots” at the Trump rally to start “taking down names and kicking ass,” Brooks was named in a federal lawsuit brought by Democratic Representative Eric Swalwell. Swalwell, who helped prosecute the impeachment case against Trump, is seeking financial damages for the injury and destruction caused by the riot.

Brooks’ opponents for the Republican nomination include Lynda Blanchard, who served as Trump’s ambassador to Slovenia. Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill is also seen as a potential Republican contender. On the Democratic side, U.S. Representative Terri Sewell has expressed interest in mounting a Senate bid.

Brooks ran unsuccessfully in a special Senate election in 2017, losing the Republican nomination to Roy Moore. Moore’s campaign imploded following multiple sexual misconduct allegations, which he denied, and Democrat Doug Jones eventually won in an upset.

Jones lost his re-election campaign last year to former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville, a staunch Trump loyalist.

Reporting by David Morgan and Joseph Ax; Editing by Scott Malone, Jonathan Oatis and Michael Perry