Now, on the eve of Tuesday’s second ballot, “MAGA Mo” – as he refers to himself in campaign literature – is not just running without Trump’s blessing, he is actively running against him. In a June 11 statement, the former president re-entered Alabama’s heated GOP Senate primary with a further endorsement from Brooks’ rival Katie Britt, describing the 40-year-old former top Capitol Hill official as as “a fearless America’s first warrior” and infuriating allies who had worked hard to portray her as a fake conservative and pro-establishment candidate.
“Mo’s fate was sealed the moment this statement arrived in his inbox,” a Trump adviser said, describing the former president’s endorsement of Britt as a “kiss of death” for the president. six-term member of Congress.
Although he rebounded to a second-place finish in last month’s primary after losing support from Trump, Brooks faces a monstrous climb to defeat Britt in Tuesday’s runoff. Even his own allies have criticized his lack of precision over the past month, pointing to his repeated vacillation between praising Trump and harsh criticism from the former president. It’s “virtually the same behavior” that angered Trump in the primary, a person close to Brooks said.
Indeed, Brooks lashed out at Trump in an interview with AL.com last week, suggesting that he “has no loyalty to anyone or anything but himself” and that he had “abandoned the conservative movement and the MAGA agenda in order to try to improve his brand reputation.” The comments came shortly after he pleaded for Trump’s re-endorsement in a public letter shared on his Twitter account which, among other things, likened the former president withdrawing his endorsement of Brooks in March to “a football coach , grabbing us by the face”. mask and get us going.”
“Part of me wonders if he also knew that by pulling his approval he would bait old Mitch [McConnell] thinking we couldn’t win and Mitch would stop attacking us,” Brooks said at the time.
In his endorsement of Britt, Trump acknowledged that Brooks’ repeated pleas to look beyond the 2020 election – including several interviews in which he revealed Trump worriedly asked if he could be reinstated as president. – sealed his decision.
“His words made me withdraw my endorsement, and Mo has wanted it back ever since – but I can’t give it to him!” Trump said, describing Brooks as “woke” in the 2020 election, even though he was the first House Republican to swear to block certification of Joe Biden’s Jan. 6, 2021 victory.
Two people familiar with the matter said Trump never considered reapproving Brooks because it would signal he made the wrong call — again. It was hard enough for him to withdraw his support, one such person said, noting that Trump complained privately about Brooks for months before he finally acted publicly.
But after recent losses for his endorsed picks in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Idaho, as well as a narrower-than-expected win for his chosen Senate nominee Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, the former president has saw an easy opportunity to flesh out his record with an endorsement from Britt, despite concerns from allies about his conservative bona fides.
Prior to Britt’s endorsement by Trump, his spokesperson Taylor Budowich said the former president never felt in a tight spot after disapproving of Brooks ahead of the May 24 primary to see him defeat third-place Mike Durant. and qualify for the second round.
“I don’t know if the president can get into pickles. He can definitely get away with it,” Budowich said.
Losing faith in Brooks
While Trump’s endorsement of Britt came as a shock to some Brooks allies who spent months working to convince the former president that she would be an opponent of MAGA in the Senate, others saw it as time. .
Due to her poor name recognition against an opponent who has spent more than a decade in Congress, Britt, who served as incumbent Alabama Senator Richard Shelby’s chief of staff and chairman of the Alabama Business Council, began working to change Trump’s mind about him. at the start of primary school.
As previously reported by CNN, Britt and her husband, Wesley Britt, a former NFL player, coordinated a brief meeting with Trump at his August 2021 rally in Cullman, Alabama, where he first met. angry at Brooks after the public coldly responded to the congressman. suggestion that they put the 2020 election behind them. Trump walked away from the meeting impressed with the couple, but already committed to Brooks.
“He was very impressed with Katie and, in fact, frustrated that he hadn’t met her before endorsing Mo. He said, ‘She and her husband look like winners, and they sound like winners'” , said a person close to Trump. called him back saying.
In February, Trump had asked the British to meet him at Mar-a-Lago. Although the invite came just days after a Super Bowl night where Trump discussed the Alabama Senate race with former New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, a longtime friend who coached Britt’s husband, the former president was also deeply frustrated with the state of Brooks’ campaign by this point. He had already spoken with Britt twice by phone since they first met at the Cullman rally and told her as they huddled in her Palm Beach club that he was ready to help her in any way.
A month later, he dropped Brooks – citing his periodic comments about the need to focus on 2022 and 2024. ‘Since he decided to go in another direction, so have I,’ Trump told the era.
Brooks responded by throwing himself into the campaign trail, spending money he had been mostly sitting on until then, and bringing in high-profile conservative figures such as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz to vouch for his MAGA status in the final days before the May primary. While Brooks’ allies said his quick course correction helped him edge Army veteran Mike Durant in the primary, Britt’s strong first-place finish — she took Brooks 45% to 29% — meant that he had to face an even bigger climb in their race to the second lap.
The person close to Brooks said he hoped Durant, who ranked third with 23% following an onslaught of attack ads by outside groups aligned with Britt, would turn around to encourage his supporters to regroup behind Brooks in the second round. Instead, Durant said he won’t choose a candidate and doesn’t even plan to vote himself in Tuesday’s contest.
“Katie Britt doesn’t deserve to be a senator. Mo Brooks has been in politics for 40 years, and all he does is keep his mouth shut. If that’s the best we have, we’re in trouble” , Durant told 1819 News. after his first defeat.
Brooks’ campaign press secretary Will Hampson told CNN he still believes voters who backed Durant in the primary will gravitate towards Brooks rather than his rival, while challenging the idea that Brooks was disappointed not to receive Durant’s approval.
“I think Mr Durant has every right to do what he thinks is right, but I think when his constituents step back they will overwhelmingly realize that Mo is the Tory candidate and that is what they are inclined to. to support,” he said. .
Britt as a safe choice
If Brooks unexpectedly pulls off a win from behind with backing from former Durant supporters, Trump’s allies would be shocked. In part, they say, because of the boost Britt received from Trump’s endorsement.
“As a first-time candidate who has never run before, and now she is on track to beat a Freedom Caucus candidate who has run multiple times – that says a lot about how the voters react here,” said Jim McLaughlin, a former Trump. campaign pollster who remains close to the 45th president.
While Trump has tried his luck with a few endorsements — most recently wading through a crowded Senate primary in Arizona to endorse tech entrepreneur Blake Masters — advisers said his decision to back Britt fell in a different category. After finishing more than 100,000 votes ahead of Brooks in the primary, Trump felt backing Britt was a safe bet — and a likely win for his scorecard — even if it would aggravate some of his most loyal allies on Capitol Hill. . Brooks was scheduled to participate in a teleconference with Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul Monday night, and has already touted endorsements from Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, conservative radio host Mark Levin and Cruz, among others.
“She’s a rising star and she could be a popular senator in Alabama,” one of Trump’s insiders said of Britt. “Trump wants to drown out the noise about (his recent losses in) Georgia, and this is one way to do it.”