Britt wins tumultuous Alabama Senate race scrambled by Trump

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – Katie Britt won the Republican Senate nomination Tuesday in Alabama, defeating six-year Rep. Mo Brooks in a primary runoff after former President Donald Trump took the unusual step of revoking his original Brooks endorsement.

The loss ends a turbulent campaign that pits Brooks, a conservative arsonist who has served more than a decade in Congress, against someone who has never held elected office. Running under the “MAGA Mo” banner, Brooks fully embraced Trump’s election lies. But that wasn’t enough for the former president, who initially backed Brooks in the race to replace Britt’s former boss, retired Senator Richard Shelbybut then withdrew his support as Brooks languished in the polls.

The race was among a handful of competitions held on Tuesday in the middle of a busy season that was shaped by Trump’s efforts to influence the GOP.

When Trump endorsed her earlier this month, Britt was already considered the favorite in the running. She came out on top in the state primary on May 24, but just missed the threshold that triggered a runoff. Still, Tuesday’s result gives Trump a win at a time when his influence on the GOP has come under scrutiny.

The former president has had a mixed track record of supporting candidates this election season, helping lift contenders for the Senate in Pennsylvania and Ohio while faltering elsewhere, notably Georgia. Voters in the one-time Republican stronghold dismissed his efforts to unseat the GOP governor and the state’s secretary of state, both of whom dismissed his extraordinary pressure to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. And his troubles in the crucial swing state deepened on Tuesday when two of his supported congressional candidates stalled in their GOP runoff elections.

In the 6th Ward in Atlanta’s northern suburbs, paramedic Rich McCormick punched Trump-backed attorney Jake Evans. And in the 10th District east of Atlanta, trucking company owner Mike Collins defeated Republican-turned Democrat Vernon Jones.

Trump persuaded Jones to run for the seat and drop his sweeping bid for governor to make way for his chosen nominee, former Senator David Perdue. Perdue lost to Republican Governor Brian Kemp, who supported Collins. The seat will be vacated by Republican Rep. Jody Hice, who also lost his bid to unseat Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, another top Trump target.

Meanwhile, in Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser won the Democratic nomination to serve another term and fend off two challengers while he worries about rising crime and homelessness.

But the Alabama Senate runoff had drawn particular attention because of the drama surrounding Trump’s endorsement and because the winner, who will face off against Democrat Will Boyd in November, is seen as the overwhelming favorite in the Republican state.

Britt, 40, portrayed herself as part of a new generation of Conservative leaders while belittling Brooks, 68, as a career politician. Victory in November would make Britt the first woman elected to the US Senate from Alabama and one of its youngest members. The state’s previous female senators had been appointed.

“Alabama has spoken. We want new blood. We want fresh blood,” she said at her victory celebration. “We want someone who fights for Christian conservative values, who fights for the freedoms and liberties this nation was founded on, and who fights for the American dream for the next generation and the next generation.”

That argument seemed to resonate with some voters on Tuesday.

“She’s young. She’s smart,” said 86-year-old Carolyn Bowman. “That’s what we need in Congress.”

Brooks, known for his bombastic style of speaking, described the race as a battle for the soul of the Republican Party, pitting the “true conservative” wing against established members of the GOP. He vilified Britt, 40, as a RINO – the pejorative GOP meaning “Republican in name only” – and claimed he was the only one with a proven conservative record.

Brooks, a founding member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, has a history of defiing party leadership and has made his opposition to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell a pillar of his campaign by embarking on a “Fire McConnell Tour” of town halls.

In his concession speech Tuesday night, Brooks told supporters he respected the outcome of the race. But in a mark of the controversial race, he accused voters of being misled by false advertising and congratulated big-dollar donors and “special interest groups” for funding Britt’s campaign.

“We’re sending to Washington, DC, exactly the opposite of what we need in the United States Senate. But the voters have spoken. You may not have spoken wisely,” he scolded.

Brooks was initially considered the frontrunner when he announced his candidacy for the Senate, and Trump was quick to offer his support, rewarding an ally who had been a fervent supporter of Trump’s false claims of voter fraud. Brooks voted against confirming Democrat Joe Biden’s election victory and delivered a fiery speech at the “Stop the Steal” rally that preceded the US Capitol riot, telling the crowd, “Today is the day American patriots begin.” , jotting down names and kicking ass. ”

But their relationship soured as Brooks struggled to find a foothold. Trump eventually withdrew his support in March, when he accused Brooks – one of the most conservative members in Congress – of “waking up” for saying at a rally it was time to walk away from a legal battle in the 2020 presidential election.

Brooks fought his way to second place in the May primary and tried again to get Trump to support him. But Trump instead backed Britt 11 days before the runoff that was widely expected to win.

Elsewhere in Virginia, Republicans picked two pro-Trump congressional candidates to face two of the most vulnerable Democrats in the fall.

In the 2nd Coast District, state Senator Jen Kiggans won the Republican race to try to unseat Democrat Elaine Luria, a retired Navy commander and member of the January 6 committee, in the general election. And in central Virginia’s 7th Circuit, Yesli Vega emerged from a competitive field of six candidates to face Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger.

In Tuesday’s Virginia Beach election, 70-year-old Nanci Eves 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 Eves, a retired nurse who lives in Virginia Beach and thinks Democrats “messed up” the country while they were in power.


Colvin reported from Washington. Ben Finley of Virginia Beach, Virginia contributed to this report.


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