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Mo Brooks Faces Moment of Truth, Va. Dems Try to Defend Seats in Tuesday Primaries

'We need a fighter. We’re not going to get it if you send us any old Republican...'

(Headline USA) Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks has run his race for Senate as a strong supporter of former President Donald Trump, refusing to accept the widely disputed outcome of the 2020 contest in the face of a preponderance of evidence that indicates widespread vote fraud.

Brooks has campaigned alongside the organizers of the ill-fated “Save America Rally” on Jan. 6, 2021—during which he became a top target of the Left after telling the crowd it was time to start “kicking ass.”

“I was proud to stand with Mo Brooks on that stage that day,” said Amy Kremer, chair of Women for America First. “Mo has the truth on his side.”

But Brooks’ efforts weren’t enough to keep him in Trump’s favor.

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The former president rescinded his early Brooks endorsement back in March and then snubbed him a second time, endorsing his rival Katie Britt ahead of Tuesday’s Republican runoff election for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Britt’s former boss, retiring GOP Sen. Richard Shelby.

Alabama is one of a handful of states holding contests Tuesday at the midpoint of a primary season that has been shaped by Trump’s effort to influence the GOP.

In Virginia, Republicans are choosing between Trump-aligned congressional candidates to take on some of the most vulnerable Democrats in the fall.

And in Georgia, Democrats will settle several close races, including deciding which Democrat will challenge Brad Raffensperger, the Republican secretary of state who overcame a Trump-backed challenge last month.

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In Washington, D.C., meanwhile, Democrat Mayor Muriel Bowser is seeking reelection amid concerns over homelessness and rising crime.

But the Alabama Senate runoff has drawn particular attention both because of the drama surrounding Trump’s endorsement and the fact that the winner will likely prevail in November in a state Trump won twice by more than 25 percentage points.

Trump initially endorsed Brooks in the spring of 2021, rewarding an ardent champion of his efforts to challenge Democrat Joe Biden’s claims of a presidential election victory.

Brooks had voted against certifying Biden and delivered a fiery speech at the rally before the U.S. Capitol uprising, telling the crowd, “Today is the day that American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.”

But nearly a year later, Trump rescinded his support after the pair’s relationship soured and as the conservative firebrand languished in the polls.

Trump blamed his decision on comments Brooks had made months earlier, at an August rally, when he said it was time for the party to move on from the 2020 presidential race—comments Trump claimed showed Brooks, one of the most conservative members of Congress, had gone “woke.”

But the move was widely seen as an effort by Trump to save face amid other losses, and Brooks alleged that it came after he informed Trump that there was no way to “rescind” the 2020 election, remove Biden from power, or hold a new special election for the presidency.

Trump’s un-endorsement was widely expected to end Brooks’ campaign. Instead, Brooks managed to finish second in the state’s May 24 primary, earning 29% of the vote to Britt’s 45% and forcing a runoff.

Brooks tried once again to get Trump to endorse him, but Trump, who has had a mixed record in backing winning candidates, instead chose Britt, Shelby’s former chief of staff, calling her a “fearless America First Warrior.”

While Brooks and Britt have similar views, their race represents a clash between two wings of the party and different generations. Shelby for decades epitomized the old-guard political style, using his clout and relationships to quietly steer federal projects and funding to his home state.

Britt, 40, has the endorsement of Shelby and other establishment Republicans, as well as deep ties to the state’s business community, reflected in her 2-1 fundraising advantage over Brooks.

Brooks, 68, is known for his fiery oratorical style. The six-term congressman was a founding member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus and has made his opposition to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell a pillar of his campaign, embarking on a “Fire McConnell Tour” of town halls. A super PAC affiliated with McConnell contributed $2 million to a PAC opposing Brooks.

Brooks also has the backing of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who say he would be a valuable addition to the Senate.

“This is a race about conservatives versus the establishment,” Paul said Friday in north Alabama. “We need a fighter. We’re not going to get it if you send us any old Republican. We need a fighter like Mo Brooks.”

Britt, meanwhile, stresses her own social conservative beliefs and has tried to paint Brooks as a career politician, saying Alabamians want “new blood.”

“President Trump knows that Alabamians are sick and tired of failed, do-nothing career politicians,” she said after Trump’s endorsement. “It’s time for the next generation of conservatives to step up and shake things up in Washington.”

Brooks has disparaged Britt as a RINO and maintained he is the only one with a proven conservative record.

Turnout in the race is expected to be low, with fewer than 15% of registered voters likely to cast ballots, according to Secretary of State John Merrill.

Elsewhere, in the nation’s capital, where Democratic primaries effectively decide winners, Bowser is trying to fend off challenges from a pair of City Council members as the city contends with a rash of crime, including a shooting Sunday in one of the city’s busiest nightlife destinations that left a 15-year-old dead and a police officer and at least two others wounded.

In Virginia, voters are set to pick Republican nominees for what is expected to be a pair of the year’s most competitive U.S. House races.

In the coastal 2nd District, state Sen. Jen Kiggans is widely seen as the GOP front-runner in the Republican race to take on Democrat Elaine Luria, a member of the House Jan. 6 committee, in the general election.

In central Virginia’s 7th District, six candidates are in a competitive race to face Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger, a former CIA officer. The eventual victor will face an uphill battle in what is considered one of the most at-play seats in Congress.

During the 2018 midterm, Spanberger was able to capitalize on a court-ordered redrawing of the congressional districts to flip the seat, long held by Republicans including former House Whip Eric Cantor. But the competitive district along the I-95 corridor between Fredericksburg and Richmond is likely to be one of many that the GOP can reclaim in what is anticipated to be a red-wave midterm election.

In Georgia, Democratic state Rep. Bee Nguyen is trying to defeat former state Rep. Dee Dawkins–Haigler in the secretary of state’s race. The winner will face Republican Raffensperger, a NeverTrump RINO who beat back Trump-endorsed challenger Jody Hice in his May 24 primary after many Democrat voters opted to participate in the rival primary.

In congressional runoffs, Republican Vernon Jones, a Trump-backed candidate and former Democrat, is competing against trucking company owner Mike Collins for the Republican nomination for the 10th Congressional District seat, east of Atlanta.

Republicans also have high hopes of knocking off 30-year Democratic Rep. Sanford Bishop in southwest Georgia’s 2nd District. The GOP is choosing between former Army officer Jeremy Hunt and real estate developer Chris West.

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press

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