Establishment-backed Republican Katie Britt won the GOP nomination for the open Alabama Senate seat on Tuesday night, triumphing in a race where former President Donald Trump quashed his initial support for his opponent and the finally approved.
The victory in the deep red of Alabama all but guarantees Britt will replace her former boss, longtime Sen. Richard Shelby, in the upper house of Congress.
Britt defeated Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) in a runoff election, winning with 65.5% of the vote to Brooks’ 34.5% when The Associated Press called the race for Britt around 9:30 p.m. , Eastern time.
Britt won with the backing of former President Donald Trump ― but she didn’t owe her victory to him. Britt, who previously served as Shelby’s chief of staff and headed Alabama’s state-level Chamber of Commerce, was the Republican establishment’s choice in the contest and had the tacit support of groups controlled by allies of the Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Brooks, a longtime Trump ally, fully endorsed the president’s false claims about a stolen 2020 election, while Britt avoided doing the same. Trump, accordingly, endorsed Brooks shortly after Shelby announced his retirement.
However, the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC controlled by McConnell allies, raised $4 million with Shelby to fund a group attacking Brooks. The group ran television ads highlighting Brooks’ criticisms of Trump’s conservatism and character before his presidency. These ads helped drive down Brooks’ poll numbers.
Seeing a political ship sinking, Trump used Brooks’ suggestion that voters drop his stolen campaign demands as an excuse to ditch the congressman. He disapproved of Brooks in March.
“Alabama’s Mo Brooks recently made a horrible mistake when he ‘woke up’ and said, referring to the 2020 presidential election scam, ‘Put that behind you, put that behind you. “despite the fact that the election was plagued with fraud and irregularities,” Trump said in a statement at the time, employing a very odd definition of “woke.”
In the May primary, Britt easily won with 45% of the vote, but failed to break the 50% margin needed to avoid a runoff. Brooks finished second with 29% of the vote.
On June 10, long after it became clear that Britt would almost certainly win the runoff, Trump endorsed her.
Britt is now set to face Democrat Will Boyd in November. She is an overwhelming favorite in the heavily Republican state.