Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) is headed toward a runoff against fellow candidate for U.S. senator Katie Britt. Brooks, who aggressively aligned himself with Donald Trump in the days following the 2020 election, has seen his campaign for Senate stumble amid a tumultuous on-and-off alliance with the former president.
Trump initially endorsed Brooks as his pick to replace retiring Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) in April of last year, not long after the then-staunch Trump ally spoke at the “Stop the Steal” rally that preceded the deadly Capitol insurrection.
But Trump would later yank his endorsement, claiming that Brooks had wavered in his support for the former president’s election subversion campaign.
With Brooks considered done for, Britt and fellow candidate Mike Durant focused their fire and negative campaigning on each other, letting Brooks recover towards the end of the campaign with a boost from his saved-up funds.
On Tuesday, Britt won the greatest percentage of the votes, but she failed to clear the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a runoff. Britt is a former aide to Shelby, and the retiring senator had thrown his influence, and substantial funding, behind her.
Alabama’s primary runoff election will be held on June 21, 2022.
In a statement bragging about Britt’s failure to dodge a runoff against him, Brooks sought to frame the primary as a MAGA victory.
“This Senate runoff is a battle for the soul of the Republican Party. It is Mitch McConnell’s Katie Britt versus Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Rand Paul, and America First’s MAGA Mo Brooks,” he said. “Our message to the Washington Swamp must be strong: you cannot buy Alabama’s Senate seat. It is ours.”
“Katie Britt is a Chamber of Commerce lobbyist backed by McConnell and the Swamp.”
By primary day, Brooks’ relationship with Trump had been fraying for months. Despite his ardent activism on behalf of the Big Lie, Brooks sought to walk the line between declaring the last election rigged and maintaining Republicans’ faith that it was still worth voting in future elections. He urged voters at a Trump rally last year to stop feeling “despondent” about 2020 and “look forward” to 2022 and 2024.
That line of thinking — an attempt to look beyond 2020 — didn’t make the former president happy.
“I’m disappointed that he gave an inarticulate answer, and I’ll have to find out what he means,” Trump told the Washington Examiner in March, evidently still fuming over Brooks’ remarks at his Alabama rally the previous year. “If it meant what he sounded like, I would have no problem changing [my endorsement] because when you endorse somebody, you endorse somebody based on principle. If he changed that principle, I would have no problem doing that.”
The former president announced he was withdrawing his endorsement of Brooks just a week after sitting down with the Examiner.
In a statement through his Save America PAC, Trump griped that Brooks recently made a “horrible mistake” when he apparently “went woke” by telling his supporters they should put the 2020 election “behind you.”
But the split between Brooks and the former president ended up yielding new insight into how Trump continued his efforts to subvert the 2020 election, even several months into Joe Biden’s presidency.
“President Trump asked me to rescind the 2020 elections, immediately remove Joe Biden from the White House, immediately put President Trump back in the White House, and hold a new special election for the presidency,” Brooks said in a statement responding to Trump’s decision to rescind his endorsement. “As a lawyer, I’ve repeatedly advised President Trump that January 6 was the final election contest verdict and neither the U.S. Constitution nor the U.S. Code permit what President Trump asks. Period.”
Brooks would later say that Trump’s entreaties to “rescind” the election came as recently as September 2021.
“I repeat what has prompted President Trump’s ire,” Brooks said in his statement. “The only legal way America can prevent 2020’s election debacle is for patriotic Americans to focus on and win the 2022 and 2024 elections so that we have the power to enact laws that give us honest and accurate elections.”