Rep. Mo Brooks, the Alabama Republican whose district includes NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and who sits on the House Science Committee, may be facing a different kind of competition in November. Mark Bray, an engineer for Jacobs Engineering in Huntsville currently working on the Space Launch System (SLS), announced Friday that he plans to run for Brooks’s seat, but as an independent. “I want to serve this district as an independent with no party affiliation so that I can truly serve the people with no strings attached,” he told local TV station WHNT.
Bray tells the Huntsville Times that it was space policy, specifically, the decision by the Obama Administration in 2010 to cancel the Constellation Program and the debate that ensued, that got him interested in a Congressional run. “I saw NASA and the space program — which used to be a bipartisan, everybody-loved-it kind of thing — become a political football,” he told the newspaper. He said he tried to work with Republicans on space policy issues, without success. “I took some stuff behind the scenes, tried to see if I could work something in policy and it didn’t fit with the mantra they wanted to sell, which was anti-Democrat.”
Bray, who works on on materials development and qualification of new propulsion systems for SLS, according to the bio on his campaign web site, is running as an independent, but is looking for Democrats for support in signing petitions to get on the ballot for November. No Democrats are running against Brooks, who is facing one Republican in the June primary, Jerry Hill. Bray said he needs to collect about 6,800 signatures from qualified voters in the district in order to appear on the ballot.