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Former Shelby aide expected to run for Senate in Alabama as GOP eyes an alternative to Brooks

Katie Boyd Britt, the president and CEO of the Business Council of Alabama, is expected to jump into the Alabama Senate race next month as some Republicans in the state seek an alternative to Rep. Mo Brooks, who has already earned former President Donald Trump’s endorsement, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.

Some Republicans are unnerved at the slash-and-burn politics of Brooks — who led the charge in Congress to overturn the 2020 election results — and view him as an unreliable ally to the business community. They hope the next Alabama senator will continue the legacy of the retiring Sen. Richard Shelby, the top Republican on the Appropriations Committee, who delivered federal funding and largesse for the state. Britt previously served as Shelby’s chief of staff.

Britt would not confirm her intentions in a statement to CNN. “I continue to serve as President and CEO of the Business Council of Alabama, and as long as I do, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on anything else,” Britt said.

But sources with knowledge of the matter say that Britt is all-but assured to jump into the race in June, hoping she provides a sharp contrast to Brooks. Her candidacy would test the enduring strength of Trump in the deep red state.

Another Republican candidate, Lynda Blanchard, the former Trump ambassador to Slovenia, is also in the race. Britt’s allies hope that Blanchard might drop out, allowing her to consolidate support as the alternative to Brooks but there’s no indication that Blanchard will step aside. The former ambassador has recently begun attacking Brooks as a “career politician.”

While she’s less well-known than Brooks, Blanchard boasts the ability to self-fund her campaign. She and her husband John donated more than $1.9 million to Trump’s presidential campaigns in 2016 and 2020; Lynda was rewarded with the ambassadorship to then-First Lady Melania Trump’s home country. The Blanchards, the co-founders of a real estate investment management company and the anti-poverty 100X Development Foundation, have pledged $5 million of their own money to the Senate campaign.

Brooks drew controversy in January, when he led the charge against Congress’ certification of President Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election. The business community abhorred the effort to overturn it, and was shocked when the pro-Trump mob breached the US Capitol to stop the certification of the vote. Some major corporations suspended their donations to the 147 Republicans who objected to it. The simmering discontent could leave an opening for a business-friendly candidate like Britt.

But Trump won Alabama by 25 points in 2020, and Britt would have to appeal to the former President’s supporters without his endorsement. Former Rep. Bradley Byrne, a previous Republican candidate for Senate, told CNN that in Alabama “the Trump lane is the lane” to victory.

“A lot of people will say … I want somebody that’s with President Trump and not with the swamp—and that’s the hurdle that Katie Boyd Britt would have to get over,” Byrne said. “But Katie is very smart and she’s got a lot of experience in politics.”

“She knows what she’s doing,” Byrne added. “And so if she jumps in the race, she must believe that she’s got a lane that she can win in.”

Some Republicans note that Trump’s 2017 endorsements of then-Sen. Luther Strange in the GOP primary and Judge Roy Moore in the general election were unsuccessful. But they recognize that while Trump might not be a kingmaker in Alabama, he can destroy a Republican campaign if he publicly opposes the candidate.

In 2020, Trump’s attacks on then-Senate candidate Jeff Sessions, stemming from their fallout over Sessions’ handling of the Russia probe as attorney general, ended his political career. Sessions was once beloved in the state; In 2014, he faced no opponent. Six years later, former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville easily defeated Sessions in the primary and Democrat Doug Jones in the general election.

Article Topic Follows: National Politics

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