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Top One Magazine

Senate Republicans quietly buck Trump in Alabama race

No senator other than her former boss, Sen. Richard Shelby, has publicly endorsed Katie Britt yet. But she is quietly getting support from at least a half-dozen of Shelby’s Republican colleagues in her bid against Donald Trump’s pick in Alabama’s open Senate race.

Five Republican senators — Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) — have donated to Britt’s campaign from their leadership PACs. None of them have done so yet for GOP Rep. Mo Brooks, who Trump endorsed in April to replace the retiring Shelby (R-Ala.).

Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), a Trump ally who won his seat in 2020 with Trump’s backing, attended a Wednesday night D.C. fundraiser for Britt, along with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) who served as the event’s “special guest,” according to the invitation.

“I like Katie a lot,” Graham told POLITICO on Thursday, noting he has known Britt since she worked for Shelby, and eventually became the senator’s chief of staff.

“In a party trying to grow demographically and pull more women in the party, that’d be a good thing. The people of Alabama will figure that out.”

Brooks has “a strong profile in Alabama, but Katie’s not giving an inch,” Graham added. “We’ll see what happens.”

The financial support for Britt, the former president of the Business Council of Alabama, comes in spite of Trump’s disparaging comments about her.

“I see that the RINO Senator from Alabama, close friend of Old Crow Mitch McConnell, Richard Shelby, is pushing hard to have his ‘assistant’ fight the great Mo Brooks for his Senate seat,” Trump said in a July statement. “She is not in any way qualified and is certainly not what our Country needs or not what Alabama wants.”

But Brooks has faltered since he entered the race, and a narrative has spread that Trump is disappointed in the Alabama congressman’s performance.

Neither Graham nor Tuberville have officially endorsed Britt, though their appearances at the crowded event Wednesday — where Tuberville was photographed with his arm around Britt — come as recent polling and fundraising numbers have cemented Britt as a leading candidate.

Britt has outraised Brooks by more than 2-to-1, bringing in $3.7 million to date, compared to his $1.7 million. Her campaign’s expenditures total less than half of Brooks’, even as Brooks has held off on staffing up for the race in an apparent cost-saving measure.

Ahead of the fundraiser Wednesday, Tuberville and Britt visited during the Iron Bowl — the state’s premier football rivalry between Alabama and Auburn — in Auburn last weekend, according to a source familiar with the meeting.

In a sign that Tuberville may be more opposed to Brooks than supportive of Britt, the former Auburn University football coach has also been receptive to Mike Durant, another Republican seeking the Senate nomination in Alabama. Durant on Thursday morning posted a photo from a meeting with Tuberville.

Brooks’ campaign chair Stan McDonald pushed back on the notion of a flailing campaign, saying in a statement that Britt is “trying to win in the DC Insider Primary because she is an insider.”

“Mo Brooks’ base is the Alabama conservative grassroots who decide our elections,” McDonald said. “He’s got their support, and he’s got President Trump’s support because they know he’s the conservative leader Alabama needs.”

While Britt is a first-time candidate, Brooks has held office for much of the last 40 years, including in the House since 2011. Prior to that, he served in the Alabama House and on the Madison County Commission.

After Brooks failed to clear the field in the race, Graham spoke with Trump to advocate on Britt’s behalf, according to a person familiar with his efforts to help her.

Graham didn’t directly answer Thursday when asked whether he has tried to talk Britt up to Trump.

“I think he has a good impression of her,” Graham said.

A Trump spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

Marianne LeVine contributed to this story.

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