Trump has changed the game in Alabama’s Senate race

By pulling his support from Mo Brooks, the ex-president has set off another round of jockeying for his endorsement

<p>Former Trump endorsee Mo Brooks on the campaign trail</p>

Former Trump endorsee Mo Brooks on the campaign trail

Last week, Donald Trump scrambled Alabama’s Republican Senate primary when he un-endorsed Representative Mo Brooks. The seat opened up because senior Senator Richard Shelby announced his retirement — and Trump un-endorsing Brooks means the two most likely candidates to take Shelby’s place are now the retiring Senator’s former chief of staff, Katie Boyd Britt, or Mike Durant.

Your dispatcher caught up with both Shelby and Alabama’s more junior Senator Tommy Tuberville about the race. The two represent different wings of the GOP in the Yellowhammer state and indicate what kind of Senator will be sworn in next year. Shelby, who is 87, entered Congress as part of the “boll weevils”, a group of conservative Southern Democrats, before he changed parties in 1994, when Republicans won the Senate Majority. He then served for years as chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee, where he’s currently the ranking Republican. He also voted to certify the 2020 presidential election results for President Joe Biden. Unsurprisingly, he endorsed Katie Boyd Britt and spoke very matter-of-factly about Mo Brooks’s decline. “We’re not surprised. He was running third in the race,” he said.

Britt also has a powerful ally: her husband Wesley, a former offensive tackle for the University of Alabama’s football team, who played for New England Patriots coach and Trump friend Bill Belichick. He has spoken to Trump about Britt, according to CNN. That could tip the scales further in her favor.

When this reporter asked Shelby if he made the case to endorse his former protégé, he said simply, “most people would welcome [Trump’s] endorsement in the Republican primary”.

Conversely, Tuberville — who won his own race in 2020 largely on the back of Trump’s decision to endorse him out of spite toward former Attorney General Jeff Sessions — appears willing to be more of a referee. This, despite his history as Auburn University’s head football coach (Auburn, it should be noted, is ’Bama’s chief rival).

Unlike Shelby, Tuberville (or Coach, as he likes to be called) voted to object to the election results alongside Senators like Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley. Unlike Tuberville, the more genteel Shelby is a much more “bring-home-the-bacon” Senator. Despite his fiscal conservatism, he brought $548 million in projects for Alabama, known as earmarks, in the Omnibus spending bill that passed earlier this month, according to Roll Call. Tuberville, for his part, joined a cohort of Senators opposed to earmarks last year.

“As I told him when I talked to him a year ago,” Tuberville said of Trump, “I like all three of them, so let’s let them all fight it out. So basically that’s what we’re doing now.” When asked what he made of Trump’s move to dump Brooks, he said simply: “Again, he’s his own guy, he’s gonna do whatever. He stayed with me, you know?”

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