MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – Former President Donald Trump told a news outlet he was unhappy with the performance of Rep. Mo Brooks, the candidate he backed for the U.S. Senate race from Alabama, and suggested that he was ready to support another candidate.
“Mo Brooks is disappointing,” Trump told the Washington Examiner on Tuesday, according to a report released Wednesday.
Trump has backed Brooks since last April, more than a year before the next May 24 primary, rewarding the conservative and ally firebrand who whipped up a crowd of Trump supporters at the January 6, 2021 rally that preceded the riot in Capitol.
Brooks has since found himself in a primary battle with two formidable adversaries: Katie Britt, the former head of a state affairs group, and Mike Durant, a businessman best known as the helicopter pilot. shot down and held prisoner during the 1993 ‘Operation Black Hawk Down’ incident.
The Alabama Senate race will decide who replaces incumbent U.S. Senator Richard Shelby. Britt previously served as Shelby’s chief of staff.
“It’s a very tight race between the three of them right now, and I’m not particularly happy,” Trump told the Examiner, leaving the door open for support from another candidate.
Trump’s support is a valuable campaign asset for Brooks in a state where Trump won 62% of the vote in the last presidential contest and remains deeply popular with Republicans. Any hesitation by Trump would be seen as a blow to Brooks’ campaign.
Brooks relied heavily on the Trump connection. His campaign signs refer to him as “MAGA Mo” in reference to the former president’s “Make America Great Again” slogan. He appeared with a life-size poster of Trump at a recent campaign stop.
Brooks’ Wednesday campaign put the blame on Britt.
“Here’s the deal: Katie Britt and her team released a fake poll and then lied to President Trump about it,” Brooks campaign spokesman Will Hampson said in a statement.
Trump told the Examiner that Brooks gave an “inarticulate response” to remarks he made at an August rally with Trump in Alabama that briefly drew mockery from the crowd.
Brooks had told the crowd it was time to move on from the last presidential race and focus on the upcoming election. The remark caused some rally attendees to briefly boo.
Trump told the outlet he wanted to know if Brooks had changed.
Hampson said Brooks remains committed to Trump and his position that the 2020 election was fraught with massive voter fraud and “stolen” by Joe Biden.
“Mo Brooks was the only one in this race to stand by him on Jan. 6,” Hampson wrote.
Trump and his allies have continued to cling to false claims that the vote was rigged in the 2020 election, claims that have been thoroughly debunked.
The Alabama contest isn’t the only race where Trump’s pick is struggling. Trump nominee originally endorsed in the Pennsylvania Senate race, Sean Parnell, has dropped his candidacy amid allegations of abuse by his ex-wife. In North Carolina, its endorsed nominee for an open Senate seat, Rep. Ted Budd, failed to make a splash. And in Georgia, his gubernatorial pick, David Perdue, follows Republican incumbent Governor Brian Kemp, a top Trump target in 2022.
Trump, who often brags about his endorsement record, has held back in several high-profile races, including contests in Ohio, Missouri and Arizona.