HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — Katie Britt won the Republican nomination for Senate in Alabama with a landslide runoff victory over Rep. Mo Brooks, capping a come-from-behind campaign that saw her first spurned but then endorsed by former President Donald Trump.
Few believed Britt, 40, was viable last June upon entering the campaign against Brooks, one of the first Republican Senate contenders of the 2022 election cycle to receive a coveted Trump endorsement. But the former chief of staff to retiring Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) shrugged off Trump’s early criticism that she was an unqualified, establishment lackey — leapfrogging Brooks in the polls, finishing first in Alabama’s May 24 primary, and defeating the congressman in Tuesday’s runoff.
For Brooks, it was an ignominious end to a disappointing campaign in which he lost Trump’s endorsement in March, as his poll numbers were cratering, despite loyally supporting the former president’s unsupported claims that the 2020 election was stolen.
Trump claimed he yanked his support for Brooks because the congressman urged Republican voters in Alabama to look past 2020 and focus on this year’s midterm elections and put a check on President Joe Biden. In reality, the former president most likely moved to avoid the embarrassment of seeing his endorsed candidate lose in a state where he enjoys as much support among grassroots Republicans as he does anywhere in the United States.
After Brooks overcame objections from Trump and advanced to the runoff, he pleaded with the former president to “#ReEndorseMo.” The congressman claimed Britt was preparing to do the bidding of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), whose super PAC spent millions to get her elected, arguing he was the only true conservative in the race who would reliably support Trump and his “America first” agenda. The former president endorsed Britt anyway.
Even Brooks’s vow to oppose McConnell for majority leader, should Republicans win control of the Senate this fall, was not enough to convince Trump to give the congressman another chance. (For nearly a year, the former president has been actively campaigning for Senate Republicans to oust McConnell as their leader, to no avail.)
Meanwhile, Britt, former president and CEO of the Alabama Business Council, has traveled far, politically, from early in the campaign, when Trump, in backing Brooks, mocked her as an “assistant” to Shelby, whom the former president called “the RINO Senator from Alabama, close friend of Old Crow Mitch McConnell.” Now? “Katie Britt,” Trump said in his June 10 endorsement statement, “is a fearless America first warrior … Katie Britt will never let you down.”
Britt, who should easily win the November general election given Alabama’s strong preference for Republicans, certainly made Trump’s choice easy.
The newly minted Senate nominee was always going to win the runoff — and she campaigned as a pro-Trump Republican from day one. Britt outpaced Brooks by nearly 16 percentage points in round one of the May 24 GOP primaries but finished 5 points shy of the 50% she need to avoid a runoff. The public opinion polls that followed showed she was on track to cruise to victory in the runoff.
Trump’s endorsement did not hurt.