The strength of former president Donald Trump’s endorsement will be tested once again tonight in the runoff primary between a candidate he previously backed and an opponent who he now supports to run against them.
Senator Richard Shelby is retiring at the end of this year and has endorsed and put money behind his former chief of staff Katie Boyd Britt. Initially, Mr Trump endorsed Representative Mo Brooks, who spoke at the “Stop the Steal” rally before the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol and criticised Mr Shelby’s support of Ms Britt.
“I see that the RINO Senator from Alabama, close friend of Old Crow Mitch McConnell, Richard Shelby, is pushing hard to have his “assistant” fight the great Mo Brooks for his Senate seat”, he said in July.
But Mr Brooks later angered Mr Trump when at a rally in Cullman, Alabama, he told attendees to put the 2020 election behind them despite Mr Trump’s repeated lies that the election was stolen.
“There are some people who are despondent about the voter fraud election in 2020. Folks, put that behind you”, he said. “Look forward. Beat them in 2022. Beat them in 2024.”
People in the crowd then booed.
“All right, well look back at it but go forward and take advantage of it”, he said.
That in turn angered Mr Trump who rescinded his endorsement of Mr Brooks.
“When I heard his statement, I said, ‘Mo, you just blew the Election, and there’s nothing you can do about it.’,” he said in a statement in March.
Last month, neither Mr Brooks nor Ms Britt earned a majority of votes in a three-way primary with Mike Durant, forcing both of them into a runoff. Earlier this month, Mr Trump endorsed Ms Britt and cited Mr Brooks’s insubordination
“Katie Britt, on the other hand, is a fearless America First Warrior”, he said. “The opposition says Katie is close to Mitch McConnell, but actually, she is not—in fact, she believes that McConnell put Mike Durant in the race to stop her, which is very possibly true.”
Last week, Mr Shelby said the endorsement might help his former protege.
“I think he’ll bring some votes to the table, even in our state”, Mr Shelby told reporters. “But she carried 62 counties.”
Senator Tommy Tuberville, the former coach of Auburn University’s football team, said the endorsement will help too.
“This is going to be an unusual race because there’s not a lot of elections going on”, he said. “It’s going to be more turnout than anything.”
Still, Mr Tuberville gave a slight advantage to Mr Brooks.
Alabama is an overwhelmingly Republican state and the winner of the primary is almost guaranteed to win the general election.
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