HOMEWOOD, Ala. (AP) — Republican Senate hopefuls made last-minute pitches to primary voters Monday in the tight race for the GOP nomination for seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Richard Shelby.
The three leading candidates in Tuesday’s primary — U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, former Shelby aide Katie Britt and veteran Mike Durant — concentrated their efforts in Republican strongholds in north Alabama, attempting to sway undecided primary voters and combat a flurry of negative attack ads in the race.
The fractured field increases the chances the primary will go to a June 21 runoff, which will be required unless a single candidate captures more than 50% of the vote.
Brooks planned a rally in Huntsville with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz as he seeks to overcome former President Donald Trump‘s harsh criticisms and decision to rescind his endorsement.
Durant, running on his status as a military veteran and business owner without political experience, received a folded U.S. flag from supporter Ashlie Combs during a stop at a barbecue restaurant in the Birmingham suburb of Homewood.
“I’m in it the for the right reason. I’m in it to serve,” Durant said. “I’m not in it because I’ve aspired to be this my whole life. In fact, I don’t like politics. But we need people like me in Washington.”
Before leading the Business Council of Alabama, Britt served as chief of staff to Shelby, one the Senate’s most senior members and a traditional Republican known for his ability to bring home federal projects and funding to his home state.
Brooks sought a resurgence after a war of words with Trump, who has not endorsed another candidate since withdrawing his backing in March after their relationship soured.
Trump cited Brooks’ languishing performance and accused the conservative congressman of going “woke” for saying it was time to move on from the 2020 presidential outcome and focus on upcoming elections. Brooks said Trump was trying to get him to illegally rescind the election.
Brooks, a six-term congressman from north Alabama, is banking on his long history with Alabama voters to overcome his feud with Trump.
“If you’re a conservative Republican I would submit to you that I’m the only proven conservative in this race. With me there is no rolling the dice to determine how I’m going to go on major public policy issues,” Brooks said at an earlier campaign event, urging people to look up his ratings from the National Rifle Association, Heritage Action and other groups.
Britt planned an afternoon event in Cullman. Before leading the Business Council of Alabama, Britt served as chief of staff to Shelby, one the Senate’s most senior members and a traditional Republican known for his ability to bring home federal projects and funding to his home state.
Britt said while her experience would allow he to “hit the ground running” she would bring a fresh perspective to Washington.
“People want new blood, they want fresh blood. They want something different in the United States Senate. They want that from the top down,” Britt said in an earlier interview with The Associated Press.
Lillie Boddie of Florence, small business owner Karla M. Dupriest of Mobile and Jake Schafer also are on the ballot.