House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C., said Tuesday he endorsed Judge Roy Moore over Sen. Luther Strange in this month's Alabama Senate runoff election in part because of the way the Republican establishment worked against fellow HFC member Rep. Mo Brooks during the August primary.
The Senate Leadership Fund, which is directed by allies of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., spent nearly $4 million against Brooks before the Aug. 15 primary, and Meadows says that has him rooting for Moore. Strange and Moore face off in a Sept. 26 runoff election for the Senate seat formerly held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
"I was supporting Mo Brooks, who's a fellow Freedom Caucus member and I think most people understand that," Meadows told the Washington Examiner. "I saw the millions of dollars coming in that truly painted a picture of my good friend Mo Brooks in a way that was not only not accurate, but it was downright deceitful and lies, and that made me want to play that much more on behalf of Judge Roy Moore."
Meadows said his support was not meant as a measure of revenge against Strange in the Aug. 15 primary, but rather a move against the GOP establishment that took down Brooks.
"I don't know if it's a revenge factor as it is a pushback against the swamp," Meadows said. "I've told Mitch McConnell when he spent millions of dollars to unseat Mo Brooks that that was not a wise decision, and hopefully in just a few days we'll see that."
Meadows said he has not had a direct conversation with McConnell about the Alabama race, but made his point through television interviews and the media.
Meadows made those comments while discussing a push led by Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist and current Breitbart News chairman, to oust sitting Republican senators in the 2018 midterms who aren't conservative enough. Bannon is reportedly plotting primary challenges in an attempt to oust the likes of Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Sen. Dean Heller, along with other potential targets such as Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss.
Meadows and the Freedom Caucus are not actively recruiting candidates to run against sitting Republican lawmakers. But Meadows said the same standards do not apply to Strange, who was endorsed by President Trump and appointed to his seat in February and did not win his seat in an election.
"I've stayed out of recruiting of candidates to run against sitting members of the House or the Senate," Meadows told the Washington Examiner when asked of his involvement in recruiting conservative candidates. "We've tried to take a more collegial approach to not try to recruit people against sitting members of Congress or sitting senators."
But he said, "I don't know that Luther Strange gets the same pass" because he was appointed and has yet to win his seat at the polls.
The Great American Alliance, a group linked to Bannon and supportive of Trump, has also released a television ad saying that Strange was "appointed by the swamp" and is a "big time lobbyist."
Meadows' announced his support for Moore, the two-time Alabama chief justice, last week after Moore met with the House Freedom Caucus in Washington and as the Moore campaign began rolling out support from other conservative figures, including Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and former Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.