MONTGOMERY, Alabama ( Associated Press) — Kathy Britt won the Republican nomination for the Alabama Senate by defeating six-term Rep. Mo Brooks in the primary after former President Donald Trump took the unusual step of revoking his endorsement.
That defeat ended a tumultuous campaign by Brooks, a conservative firebrand who fully embraced Trump’s campaign lies and ran under the slogan “MAGA Mo.” But that wasn’t enough for the former president, who initially supported Brooks in the race to replace former boss Britt by firing Senator Richard Shelby, but then withdrew his support as Brooks languished in the polls.
Trump ended up backing Britt in the last leg of the race after she became the top vote-getter in the state’s May 24 primary.
The state was one of the few to host contests on a Tuesday in the middle of the main season, which was shaped by Trump’s efforts to influence the Republican Party.
After losing heavily in last month’s Georgia primary, Trump’s losing streak in the state continued on Tuesday, when two of his endorsed congressional candidates lost out in the GOP runoff.
In the 6th district of the northern suburbs of Atlanta, emergency room doctor Rich McCormick beat Trump-backed lawyer Jake Evans. And in the 10th district east of Atlanta, trucking company owner Mike Collins defeated Democrat-turned-Republican Vernon Jones.
Trump convinced Jones to run for the seat and drop his long-term bid for governor to clear the field for his chosen candidate, former Senator David Purdue. Perdue lost to Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who backed Collins. The seat is being vacated by Republican Rep. Jody Hayes, who also lost his bid to oust Republican Secretary of State Brad Ruffensperger, another top Trump target.
In Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser won the Democratic nomination to serve another term, fending off a couple of challengers amid fears of rising crime and homelessness.
But the Alabama Senate runoff drew particular attention both because of the drama of supporting Trump and the fact that the winner is likely to win in November in a state in which Trump twice won by more than 25 percentage points. points.
Trump initially endorsed Brooks in the spring of 2021, rewarding an ardent supporter of his baseless stolen election claims. Brooks voted against confirming Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential victory and delivered a fiery speech at a rally ahead of the Capitol uprising, telling the crowd, “Today is the day American patriots start swearing names and kicking ass.”
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But nearly a year later, Trump withdrew his support after the couple’s relationship soured and the conservative firebrand languished in the polls. Trump blamed his decision on comments Brooks made a few months earlier at an August rally when he said it was time for the party to drop its legal battle over the 2020 presidential race. , “woke up”.
The move was widely seen as Trump’s attempt to save face among other losses, and Brooks claimed it came after he told Trump that there was no way to “cancel” the 2020 election, remove Biden from power, or hold a new special election on the presidency.
Many expected that Trump’s withdrawal would end Brooks’ campaign. Instead, Brooks managed to finish second in the May 24 state primary, winning 29% of the vote to Britt’s 45% and forcing a runoff.
Brooks again tried to convince Trump to support him, but Trump, who has a controversial record of supporting winning candidates, instead chose Britt, Shelby’s former chief of staff.
While Brooks, 68, and Britt, 40, hold similar views, their race represents a clash between two wings of the party and different generations.
Brooks, known for his pompous oratorical style, described the race as a battle for the soul of the Republican Party, with the “truly conservative” wing pitted against the establishment of the Republican Party. He dismissively referred to Britt as a member of RINO—a Republican Party pejorative term meaning “Republican in name only”—and claimed he was the only one with a proven conservative record.
The six-term congressman and founding member of the Freedom House conservative caucus also made his opposition to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell a mainstay of his campaign by embarking on Firefighter McConnell’s City Hall Tour.
He has the support of Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who say he would be a necessary tough addition to the Senate.
“This is a race between conservatives and the establishment,” Paul said Friday in North Alabama. “We need a fighter. We won’t get it if you send us some old republican. We need a fighter like Mo Brooks.”
Meanwhile, Britt is positioning himself as a new generation of conservative leaders. She has the support of Shelby and other establishment Republicans, but emphasizes her own social conservative beliefs and tried to portray Brooks as a professional politician.
“People need new blood. They need fresh blood. They need someone to go to DC and fight for their values and fight for the hardworking Alabamas,” Britt told reporters Tuesday as she voted with her husband, former New England Patriot player Wesley Britt, and two children.
That argument seemed to resonate with some voters on Tuesday.
“She is young. She’s smart,” said 86-year-old Carolyn Bowman. “That’s what we need in Congress.”
According to Secretary of State John Merrill, turnout in the race is expected to be low, with less than 15% of registered voters able to vote.
In Virginia, Republicans have been choosing between Trump supporters for congressional candidates in the fall to take on some of the most vulnerable Democrats.
In the coastal 2nd District, State Senator Jen Kiggans won the Republican race in a bid to unseat Democrat Elaine Luria, a retired Navy commander and committee member on Jan. 6, in the general election. In the 7th district of central Virginia, six candidates compete for the right to meet with Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger, a former CIA officer.
In Tuesday’s election in Virginia Beach, Nancy Ives, 70, said she voted for Kiggans in part because she believes the candidate is best placed to win in November.
“We need someone who can beat Elaine Luria,” said Ives, a retired nurse who lives in Virginia Beach and believes the Democrats have created a “mess” in the country while in office.
In Georgia, Democratic Rep. Bi Nguyen defeated former State Rep. Dee Dawkins-Hageler in the race for secretary of state. Nguyen will face Republican Raffensperger, who rejected Trump’s efforts to “find” enough votes to overturn Biden’s 2020 state presidential election victory and rebuffed the Trump-backed candidate in his May 24 primary.
Ben Finley of Virginia Beach, Virginia contributed to this report.