Alabama congressman Mo Brooks is an unlikely figure to star in a romantic tragedy. But the crusty old reactionary is really pulling at the heartstrings as he begs his onetime patron and idol, Donald Trump, who endorsed and then de-endorsed Brooks in his U.S. Senate race, to take him back before a June 21 Republican runoff that will decide his fate.
Brooks was justifiably anguished when Trump withdrew his August 2021 endorsement in March. After all, he had been the point of the spear in Congress for Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020-election results. He was in the habit of calling himself MAGA Mo and promised to wreak vengeance on Trump’s enemies, particularly Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. And he was initially the front-runner in the race to be the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate. But he ran what was generally regarded as a poor campaign with inadequate fundraising, and by the time Trump dumped him, he was third in the polls, behind Establishment darling Katie Britt and wealthy political novice and celebrity veteran Mike Durant. What added insult to injury, though, was Trump’s contrived claim that Brooks had gone “woke” by refusing to go along with the absurd idea that Joe Biden may yet be yanked from office and replaced by the rightful president.
But despite being left for dead, Brooks chugged along. With some help from the Club for Growth, he caught up with and passed Durant, whose campaign cratered after his and his backers’ ideological rigor came into question. So he made the runoff against Britt. And having proved to Trump that he’s not the loser he appeared to be, he wants the 45th president to reconsider his de-endorsement. And Brooks is even offering Trump cover for his irresolution in this race:
This cringeworthy acceptance of responsibility for Trump’s tough-love gesture of kicking Brooks in the butt to get him in gear is pretty sad but nicely crafted to tempt the ex-president into a dramatic re-endorsement in order to confound Trump’s enemies, particularly Britt’s not-so-secret admirer McConnell (who is likely just doing the bidding of his old colleague Richard Shelby, who is giving up this seat and trying to pass it along to his former chief of staff).
Truth is Brooks needs Trump’s love so badly that a degree of toadying extraordinary even in MAGA-land is indeed in order. Britt led Brooks 45 percent to 29 percent in the primary, and she has both financial and organizational advantages. As a Hill veteran and then as head of Alabama’s top business lobby, Britt may be the Sweetheart of the Swamp, but she’s advertising herself as a big-time Christian conservative who will nonetheless bring home the bacon like Shelby always did. Brooks had reason to hope that Durant would endorse him against Britt, but the embittered former candidate is now saying he won’t even bother to vote in the runoff:
Katie Britt doesn’t deserve to be a senator. Mo Brooks has been in politics for 40 years, and all he does is run his mouth. If that is the best we have, we’re in trouble.
So Trump taking him back is MAGA Mo’s final, desperate hope. And Politico reports it could happen:
Trump “hasn’t made a decision yet” about intervening in the runoff, said the person close to the president, adding that it’s unlikely Trump sits out. If Trump were to turn around and re-endorse Brooks, he could make the argument that pulling the endorsement two months ago “taught him a lesson,” the person said, and that “Mo got straight and has been very strong since” on his rhetoric about the 2020 election.
On the other hand, Trump has an unblemished record in 2022 Senate-primary endorsements so far (in contrast to the three losses his gubernatorial candidates have suffered), and he surely remembers how an Alabama Senate race in 2017 (in which he made three failed endorsements before a Democrat won the seat) tripped him up before. Aside from her many other advantages, Britt got Trump-adjacent encouragement when his buddy Bill Belichick, the New England Patriots coach, put in a word for her based on his experience with Britt’s husband, Wesley, who played football for the Pats. And in the end, letting down Brooks a second time may appeal to Trump’s innate cruelty.
He has a couple of weeks to keep Brooks, Britt, and the Alabama political world in suspense if he so wishes.
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