MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Donald Trump endorsed Katie Britt on Friday in an Alabama U.S. Senate race, doubling down on the former president’s decision to spurn his previous choice in the Republican primary.
Trump called Britt “an incredible fighter for the people of Alabama.” The former president had originally backed U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks in the race, but rescinded that endorsement in March after their relationship soured.
Britt was chief of staff to retiring U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby before stepping down to lead a state business group, and is now running to fill Shelby’s vacant seat. Britt and Brooks face off in the June 21 runoff that will decide the Republican nominee.
“Above all, Katie Britt will never let you down,” Trump wrote, adding, “she has my complete and total endorsement!”
The decision was another blow to Brooks, who had sought to regain Trump’s support. “Mo has been wanting it back ever since,” Trump said Friday of his endorsement, “but I cannot give it to him! Katie Britt, on the other hand, is a fearless America First Warrior.”
Trump endorsed Brooks last year, rewarding the conservative firebrand who had been an ardent supporter of Trump’s false 2020 election fraud claims. Brooks had whipped up a crowd of Trump supporters at the Jan. 6, 2021, rally that preceded the U.S. Capitol insurrection.
But Trump pulled that endorsement, citing Brooks’ languishing performance in the race. He also accused Brooks of going “woke” for saying at a Cullman rally that it was time to move on from litigating the 2020 presidential election and focus that energy on upcoming elections instead.
Britt led the primary field in the May primary, and has been seeking Trump’s support since he backed away from Brooks.
Trump’s glowing endorsement of Britt is a stark contrast to statements he made a year ago about her when he called her “not in any way qualified” and describing her as an “assistant” to a “RINO Senator,” referring to Shelby as a “Republican in name only.”
Britt said Friday that she was thankful to have Trump’s support. “President Trump knows that Alabamians are sick and tired of failed, do-nothing career politicians,” she said in a statement. “It’s time for the next generation of conservatives to step up and shake things up in Washington to save the country we know and love for our children and our children’s children.”
Despite losing Trump’s endorsement in March, Brooks had continued to campaign under the label of “MAGA Mo,” a reference to the Make America Great Again slogan, and had challenged Britt to a debate on the singular topic of whether the 2020 election was “stolen.”
Brooks tweeted Friday that the voters of Alabama will decide the race.
“Let’s just admit it: Trump endorses the wrong people sometimes,” Brooks wrote, noting that a Trump-endorsed candidate lost the 2017 Senate race in Alabama.
Trump has a mixed record in this year’s midterm elections.
He burnished his kingmaker status last month by lifting a trailing Senate candidate in Ohio, JD Vance, to the Republican nomination. And in Pennsylvania, Republican voters narrowly chose Trump’s Senate pick, celebrity heart surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz, as well as his preferred gubernatorial candidate, Doug Mastriano, who said he wouldn’t have certified President Joe Biden’s 2020 win of the state.
However, voters in Georgia rejected Trump’s efforts to unseat the state’s Republican governor and secretary of state, both of whom rebuffed his extraordinary pressure to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. That has raised questions about whether Republican voters are beginning to move on from Trump, ahead of another possible White House run.