Mo Brooks faces a monstrous climb in Alabama runoff against Trump-backed Katie Britt
“Mo’s fate was sealed the moment that statement hit his inbox,” said one Trump adviser, describing the former President’s endorsement of Britt as a “kiss of death” for the six-term congressman.
“Part of me wonders if he also knew that in pulling his endorsement, he’d bait ol’ Mitch [McConnell] into thinking we couldn’t win and get Mitch to stop attacking us,” Brooks said at the time.
In his endorsement of Britt, Trump acknowledged that Brooks’ repeated calls to look beyond the 2020 election — including multiple interviews in which he revealed that Trump had asked concerningly whether he could be reinstated as President — sealed his decision.
Prior to Trump’s endorsement of Britt, his spokesman Taylor Budowich said the former President never felt he was in a difficult spot after un-endorsing Brooks before the May 24 primary only to see him defeat third-place finisher Mike Durant and advance to the runoff.
“I don’t know that the President can get himself into pickles. He can definitely get himself out of them,” Budowich said.
Losing his 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 a MAGA adversary in the Senate, others saw it as a long time coming.
“He was very impressed with Katie and, actually, frustrated that he hadn’t met with her before endorsing Mo. He said, ‘She and her husband look like winners, and they sound like winners,'” a person close to Trump once recalled him saying.
One month later, he ditched 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 said at the time.
The person close to Brooks said he was hoping that Durant, who placed third with 23% following an onslaught of attack ads by Britt-aligned outside groups, would turn around encourage his supporters to coalesce behind Brooks in the runoff. Instead, Durant said he wouldn’t be choosing a candidate and doesn’t even plan to vote himself in Tuesday’s contest.
Brooks’ campaign press secretary Will Hampson told CNN he still believes that voters who backed Durant in the primary will gravitate toward Brooks over his rival, while disputing the idea that Brooks was disappointed not to receive Durant’s endorsement.
“I think Mr. Durant has every prerogative to do what he sees is right, but I think when his voters take a step back, they will realize overwhelmingly that Mo is the conservative candidate and that’s what they are inclined to support,” he said.
Britt as the safe choice
If Brooks unexpectedly manages a come-from-behind victory with the support of former Durant supporters, Trump allies would be shocked. In part, they say, because of the boost Britt has received from Trump’s endorsement.
“As a first-time candidate who has never run before, and now she’s on track to beat a Freedom Caucus candidate who has run several times — that says a lot about how voters are responding here,” said Jim McLaughlin, a former Trump campaign pollster who remains close to the 45th President.
“She’s a rising star and could be a popular senator in Alabama,” one of the people close to Trump said of Britt. “Trump wants to drown out the noise about (his recent losses in) Georgia, and this is one way to do that.”