HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- On the same day that Congressman Mo Brooks was endorsed by President Donald Trump, his GOP primary opponent was endorsed by three retired U.S. Army generals.
Clayton Hinchman, a former U.S. Army captain who lost a leg fighting in Iraq, received the endorsements of retired Lt. Gen. Jim Barclay, Lt. Gen. Tony Jones and Lt. Gen. Jim Pillsbury during a press conference in Huntsville.
The generals said that Hinchman has demonstrated boldness throughout his career and that the 5th District needed new leadership.
Pillsbury, former deputy commanding general for AMC and former Senior Mission Commander for Redstone Arsenal, said Redstone has fared better in the past with more unified political leadership.
“I had the opportunity to be the senior mission commander at Redstone Arsenal for over three and a half years,” Pillsbury said. “And I saw what good, solid political leadership can do for an installation, a city, a county and a region. We need to get back to political leadership in Congress that fully supports the vast and varied missions on Redstone Arsenal.”
Jones, a combat veteran, also served as vice president of Boeing in Huntsville. He was critical of Army aviation budget cuts while Brooks has been in Congress.
“Congressman Brooks has been co-chair of the aviation caucus all his tenure,” Jones said. “Aviation has lost $3 billion during that timeframe and we’re not able to train our military, and have them ready and relevant for the fight.”
Brooks’ campaign objected to that characterization Wednesday afternoon, acknowledging that Army Aviation had seen budget cuts, but arguing that Brooks had fought for funding.
“Congressman Mo Brooks does not argue that Army Aviation was not hurt under the Obama Administration by sequestration and its resulting military spending cuts.
“But Mr. Hinchman should be reminded that Congressman Mo Brooks was one of only two Alabama Republican Congressmen who, in the face of tremendous pressure to do the wrong thing, had the foresight to see what was coming down the pike, stand strong and vote ‘No’ against the very bad sequestration bill that has caused so much damage to our military generally and Army Aviation in particular.
“And it is also why Mo Brooks’ Congressional colleagues have helped him lead the Army Aviation Caucus – to prevent these kinds of dangerous national security budget cuts from happening again.”
Members of Congress are rewarded for seniority, with committee assignment and leadership roles, but the generals argued Wednesday, that was not a sufficient basis to support the incumbent, Brooks.
“Tenure doesn’t necessarily mean you get things done. Take a look at his voting record, take a look at how many he has authored and put forward,” said Barclay, who retired after serving as an Army deputy chief of staff.
Pillsbury also argued that Hinchman has the potential to be a long-term member of Congress if he can first defeat the four-term incumbent.
“I’m not sure that what we’ve seen in the recent past from Congress has really helped Redstone Arsenal,” he said. “What I see here standing next to me is a young man that’s got potential to be a decades-long representative for Northern Alabama.”
President Trump released a statement endorsing Congressman Mo Brooks that said, "Mo Brooks is a fighter! He fought by my side to secure our border, rebuild our military, cut your taxes, repeal Obamacare, and build the wall. He supports my Make America Great Again Agenda. We need more people like Mo in Congress. Vote for Mo Brooks for Congress."