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Trump Takes His Fight Against GOP Establishment to Alabama

Posted on Friday, August 20, 2021
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AMAC Exclusive By: Daniel Roman

Alabama

While everyone is watching the unfolding debacle in Afghanistan, Donald Trump is taking his battle for the soul of the Republican party to Alabama, where he will hold a rally for Congressman Mo Brooks. Brooks, a loyal ally of the President, is running for the Senate seat of the retiring Richard Shelby, an infamous pork-barrel politician, first elected as a Democrat, and who for a long time chaired the appropriations committee. Brooks’s primary opponent, Katie Britt, is Shelby’s former Chief of Staff, and (presumably) enjoys the backing of Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell.

“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 statement last month. ”She is not in any way qualified and is certainly not what our Country needs or not what Alabama wants. For Mitch McConnell to be wasting money on her campaign is absolutely outrageous.”

The Alabama Senate race provides an early look at the interesting questions about the future of the Republican Party, not only in the state but perhaps nationwide. Will the coalition of upscale suburban Republicans and former Democrats who have run the state maintain their hold on the office? Will their loss of Senator Shelby’s seat to a populist conservative undermine their position at home, given Senator Shelby’s role as their political patron? And are there any signs whatsoever of a Democratic Party in Alabama worth contemplating at all?     

Alabama is a blood red state, one where the exception, former Democratic Senator Doug Jones, who won a 2017 special election over former State Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore in 2017, proved the rule. Jones appeared to realize that his 2017 victory was a fluke, owed to Moore’s personal predilection for underage women, inability to understand why anyone would object to it, and the fact that for Republican-leaning voters, control of the U.S. Senate was not on the line in 2017. Jones never seemed to believe that his 51%-49% victory could be repeated, and voted in the Senate as a party-line Democrat, including against the Supreme Court Nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, who was overwhelmingly popular in Alabama. When 2020 came, Jones lost 60%-40%.

That 20-point victory seems like a good description of the partisan balance in the state. Joe Biden did slightly worse in 2020 (62%-37%), and no one, least of all former Senator Jones, who has ruled out a 2022 run, seems to believe that a Democrat is likely to do much better than that. Most of the action in Alabama politics thus takes place within the Republican Party itself, where like many southern states, Alabama’s Republican party is a hodge-podge of different groups. There are conservatives who first broke with Democrats over their soft on Communism approach during the 1950s in voting for Eisenhower. Then followed those who defected in the 1960s. Democrats today love to point to these Dixiecrats, but they actually make up the smallest percentage of the state’s Republican party, a point demonstrated by the fact that the GOP elected only one Senator from Alabama until 1996. The heart and soul of the state’s Republican party is split between those early conservatives, making up perhaps 30% of the electorate as shown by results in the 1950s, the professionals who gravitated to the expanding suburbs and exurbs in the 1960s-1990s, and finally party switchers, most of whom switched between 1995 when retiring Senator Richard Shelby made the jump, and 2002 when current governor Kay Ivey made hers.

For Republicans to lose, they generally need to lose both the D-R switchers, and the upscale Republican “RINOs”.

There is reason to believe that if it is unlikely any Republican can lose both groups again, it is particularly unlikely that Mo Brooks will be the one to do it. Brooks is a great might-have-been. If he had been the Senate nominee in 2017, as someone who was both an anti-establishment champion of Donald Trump and a three-term congressman from the district which contains Huntsville and is the closest thing to a swing area in the state, Brooks would likely have united the party and won an easy general election victory. But he came third in the primary between the incumbent Attorney General Luther Strange, and Moore, setting up an upscale versus conservative runoff in which Moore had the advantage in despite his flaws. Brooks now seems to largely have the “conservative” lane to himself. He has proven his loyalty to Donald Trump, helping lead the charge against the certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the electoral college. He has also run the closest thing to a competitive election of any of the major candidates, who as we will see, otherwise involve individuals with no prior electoral record. He defeated an incumbent Congressman (albeit a former Democrat, Parker Griffith) in his 2010 primary, and faced viable Democratic opponents (for Alabama) who managed 43% and 39% in 2010 and 2018.

Brooks is still in many ways a factional candidate. He is also in a different faction from the Senator he is running to replace. Richard Shelby was elected to the Senate as a Democrat in 1986, defeating Jeremiah Denton, a former Admiral and Vietnam POW who was Alabama’s first Republican Senator since Reconstruction. Reelected in 1992 as a Democrat, Shelby switched parties in 1995 (after Republicans took Senate control in the 1994 Gingrich Revolution), and he rose up the ranks to Chair the powerful Banking Committee. Shelby was a conservative Democrat, and while a reliable Republican vote in the Senate, never seemed comfortable with the populist intensity of the conservative grassroots. This was most evident in 2017, when Shelby very explicitly declined to endorse Roy Moore, all but tacitly encouraging his supporters to vote for Doug Jones in the general election.

While Shelby is not running, his former Chief of Staff, Katie Britt is. Britt has never run for office before, so her politics must be assessed by her two major areas of involvement. That of serving as Shelby’s de facto deputy, and subsequently heading the Business Council of Alabama. Her husband, a former NFL player, now works for Alabama Power. A former Chief of Staff to a U.S. Senator does not run for office if they are not the handpicked designated heir of their former boss. To do so would be futile, as all of their connections and influence are tied to that individual. As such, it can effectively be assumed Britt is Shelby’s candidate.

But what, precisely, is her faction? Britt as CEO of the Business Council of Alabama clearly is linked to the state’s economic interests, but she is adopted into it through her links with Shelby. She grew up in Cullman, a city of 15,000 about 50 miles south of Huntsville in rural northern Alabama. That is far from the power centers of Shelby where the GOP aristocracy is based. Northern Alabama remained Democratic until 2010, and it is likely Britt, with her background with Shelby, involvement in sports and economic development, represents the sort of local political interests which switched parties in the 1990s and 2000s, much as Shelby and Governor Ivey do.

The challenge for Britt is she likely needs both the upscale suburban Republicans and the old-style former Democrats to have a chance of beating Brooks. Her post Shelby job makes her well-placed to appeal to them over Brooks, but she needs to deal with the threat posed by two additional candidates.

The most prominent is Lynda Blanchard, a businesswoman who served as Ambassador to Slovenia under Donald Trump from 2019-2021. The founder of a real estate investment firm, and married to another real estate figure, Blanchard along with her husband donated more than $2.6 million to Republican causes between 2015 and April 2019. Whereas Mo Brooks’ involvement in politics comes from running in elections, and Britt from serving on the staff of a U.S. Senator, Blanchard’s comes from money. Originating from suburban Montgomery, she is a representative of that wing of the party.

Other candidates may enter the race too. Bradley Byrne, a former US Representative for the first district and Senate candidate in 2020, has a similar profile to Britt except with the advantage of having held elected office. Former Congresswoman Martha Roby may run, but having suffered underperformances in both primaries and general elections, it is hard to tell how serious her prospects would be.

Alabama’s primary elections function in two rounds. The first is an all-candidate primary. If no candidate wins 50%, then the top two candidates go onto a second round. All indications point to Brooks coming in first in the initial primary. In fact, the one public poll we have, sponsored by the Club for Growth, shows Brooks at 59% to 13% for Blanchard and 9% for Britt. But the Club for Growth backs Brooks’ campaign and he has the highest name recognition, a strength which can be expected to deteriorate. Blanchard’s asset is money, and Britt’s is institutional support, especially from Senator Shelby and potentially Governor Ivey. If it goes to a runoff, then one of those two might have a chance to win. Britt probably has a much greater chance than Blanchard, though both would still be underdogs to Brooks. Whoever wins will almost certainly be the next senator.

Nonetheless, the outcome will have greater implications for Alabama’s future. A victory for Britt over Brooks would solidify the position of the Alabama establishment. It has used conservative votes to rule, and occasionally sent populist conservatives to DC, but generally kept Montgomery in the hands of representatives either of the party switchers or Republican elite, whether that is former Governor Bill Riley or Ivey. Brooks winning would encourage a similar candidate to make a bid for governor.

Democrats have little at stake, though they would have to decide between being able to fundraise nationally off of Brooks, or being able to have civil relations with Britt. Maybe, a takeover of the entire Alabama GOP by Brooks-style Republicans might provide a path toward an eventual Democratic revival in the state, but that would be a long way off, and would require the party to abandon all pretense of liberal, anti-police politics in favor of effectively being the party of local interests and high-income voters. In the meantime, the real battle is over the future of the GOP.

Daniel Roman is the pen name of a frequent commentator and lecturer on foreign policy and political affairs, both nationally and internationally. He holds a Ph.D. in International Relations from the London School of Economics.

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Bill Van Horn
Bill Van Horn
2 years ago

I supported President Trump, and appreciated many of his policies.
However, he seems to be becoming more unhinged and unstable. He lost the election by millions of votes. Get over it. He’s not going to get “reinstated” as President this year. He’s attacking Republicans, viciously, who won’t kowtow to him and repeat his lies. (I’m writing this as a strong, former supporter of his)
 Our 10 kids/spouses: None will vote for him again, even though most are conservatives. That does not bode well for a re-run.
 There are many great Republicans who would make an excellent President who don’t have all this (partially self-imposed) baggage.
I wish Trump would stop attacking good Republicans such as “Old Crow Mitch McConnell” (?!), Richard Shelby, and Katie Britt. He can support Mo Brooks without attacking other Republcans.

Honor & Courage,
Bill Van Horn

WRS
WRS
2 years ago

Trump has no business fighting the GOP. His actions are what put the US in the disastrous position it now occupies. His actions, accusations and bluster after his loss almost certainly caused the loss of 2 Georgia US senate seats. The Republican party needs to get back to the supposed basics: Fiscal sanity, strong defense and a smaller government. Trump will be an obstacle to such an approach. I realize if Trump does not get what he wants from Republicans, he will probably mount his own independent campaign. Such and action would wreck the GOP and the country. The time to put him behind us is now.

Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
2 years ago

The GOP Estd always blocks Trump day 1 & now still active all DC Estd types status quo

Christian
Christian
2 years ago

Looks like the Amac trolls are jerking off on Patriot leads to get a reaction?
The great American majority knows Biden Harris is a diarrhea crap show on steroids.
The election? You mean when it was stopped in all the “swing” states in the early AM hours?
When has that happened?
They didn’t care if The People found out what “they” have been doing for decades and even longer before the election machines.
How about that southern boarder and the wall that was already paid for?
Those “assault rifles” they left for the nice terrorists?
The tanks, hummers, jets and helicopters?
Anybody out there is vaporville ready to roll yet?
At least get ride of the fraudsters, usurpers, and other America hating tyrants!

Kevin S
Kevin S
2 years ago

I remain utterly flummoxed at the number of supposedly intelligent people who can’t seem to separate persona V policy.
Yup I vehemently disagreed with DJTs behavior, pretty much most of the time. But Polyanna, it ain’t supposed to be a popularity contest. Do shareholders and board directors care if a boor, while obnoxious but not illegal, acts? Are they making the company increase value, grow sales. improve employee environment and market share? Just what’s important here – I wish I was a surgeon, I’d specialize in cranialsphinctorectomies. So many candidate patients.

Robert
Robert
2 years ago

Are we concerned with results for America or are we placing emphasis on aspects of a person’s personality that we don’t like. If you think Trump did not do great for his countrymen (you), you are living under a rock. Crawl back under it. The RINOS have been sucking your blood just like the Dims for decades. Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney, that new cry baby fly boy from Michigan Adam Kinzinger, The turtle McConnell, Graham, the dufus from Maine…..etc…etc…etc….throw away your liberty at your own peril, or rather the peril of coming generations.

Janet Paine
Janet Paine
2 years ago

I can hardly wait for Saturday. The Trump flag is flying at my house

Jdaniel
Jdaniel
2 years ago

If Trump is for him I am for him I trust Donald John Trump he is for America and the American patriot.

Wil Haines
Wil Haines
2 years ago

Donald Trump is the only politician that I trust at my 76 years of age. I’ve been for him ever since I saw him on the infamous “theater” debates during the 2016 election. Relatives of mine at that time, said “Uncle Wil, how can you like a guy like Donald Trump?”. My answer was and “still is, “he is the first politician in my lifetime that tells it like it is.” Better yet, as President of the US, he was the only politician in my lifetime who did what he said he was going to do. Had it not been for the likes of McConnell and all the other swamp rats we have in government, our Country would have never gotten to the shape it now is under the Democrap party. And, while I am still alive and breathing, thank you sir Donald Trump for your wonderful service to our Country. Wilbur A. (Wil) Haines.

Harry
Harry
2 years ago

President Trump was and would be one of our best presidents in the HISTORY of the United States of America !!!!!!!!

Becky
Becky
2 years ago

Trumphas been the only politician in my lifetime who actually did what he said he was going to. And bluster does not disqualify a person. He always said what he meant….and what was. That will always get a sane person’s vote.
Manners are for idiots when the country is burning.

Hal
Hal
2 years ago

As much as I respect and admire Trump’s performance as POTUS, I do wish the Republicans could come up with any one of several potential good candidates for POTUS. Frankly, I think there should be an age limit for running for POTUS … say age 70. Biden is about as clear an example of how age (plus a crooked history in his past governance roles overwhelms leadership confidence by the public. I dearly wish Trump could have finished out his Presidency as a second term successor, but a rigged election prevented that.

Bill on the Hill
Bill on the Hill
2 years ago

Lest we forget, this article is about Trump stumping for Congressman Mo Brooks & his winning Senator Shelby’s Senate seat…Yes the America First agenda is in all of this, however this isn’t about Trump running in 2024…More importantly we have to fix the 2020 presidential election outcome before 2022 even gets here…The rigged Dominion machine debacle has got to be resolved before anymore elections are held in this country…The crooked democrats pulled it off with a rigged presidential election & a rigged Georgia general election but there is one slight problem in all of this, THEY GOT CAUGHT…
Meanwhile President Trump is doing an excellent job getting the right kind of people on board with the America First Agenda… RINO’s & Democrats be damned!
In so many ways, Trump has been able to free himself of the daily Washington, DC political machine by doing events like these & endorsing true American patriots that are for America first, not personal gain…Watch the audits & lets see what happens, interesting times ahead for sure…
Bill on the Hill… :~)

Jeff
Jeff
2 years ago

Political success in a democracy means getting at least 50.1% of the people to agree with you. If you are a conservative and believe in traditional values, then the real adversaries are the socialists and leftists that want to tear this country down and replace it with an autocratic government controlled by those on the east and west coasts. “Traditional Rs” and the new “Populist Rs” need to identify issues we can work together on and candidates we can both support. Please try to understand that what unites us as conservatives is way bigger and more important than the issues that divide us. If we continue to shoot at each other and tearing each other down, we will wake up and AOC, “the squad” and others with similar values will be running the country. Right after that we had better learn Chinese

Myrna S Wade
Myrna S Wade
2 years ago

I hope to see this rally in Alabama. It is good for my spirit.

Robert Zuccaro
Robert Zuccaro
2 years ago

Trump is more “presidential” than the ass clown who calls himself one today.

Russ
Russ
2 years ago

Why do you think all of the democrats fled Texas ? Because Gov. Abbott wants to eliminate the corruption at the voting booth ! The democrats know that they can’t win in a fair election, so they rig them, like they did with the 2020 presidential election. Until the corruption is addressed at the polls, and American citizens are confidant that their vote counts, we will remain nothing more than a communist state, that’s basically what we’re living now !

aluminum head
aluminum head
2 years ago

Nuke the entire M E. The blood and money lost there ? This damn govt. is insane.

Bill on the Hill
Bill on the Hill
2 years ago

I’ve returned to the comments on this article to say I did watch the entire Trump Rally in AL & yes it was packed, some say 50,000 people strong…Now, look at the CNN sponsored JRB Town Hall from last week, 90% empty. I rest my case…Yes sir, 81 million American citizens flocked to the polls to vote for JRB, NOT!
In listening to the lead up to the eventual Trump entrance by all these bible thumping southern politicians, I couldn’t help but notice just how empty their words truly were…Case in point was listening to the man himself, Congressman Mo Brooks…Brooks came very close to lousing the crowd when he proclaimed to to his listeners to ” forget the 2020 election ” & concentrate on the 2022 & 2024 elections…Being the polished politician he is, he very quickly changed the narrative. I really don’t like politicians much!
Trump gets it & rightly proclaimed the 2020 election was rigged. The crowd got it too & they did indeed understand that the 2020 election fiasco has got to be corrected before any of us can move forward, I believe Trump understands this better than any of us do…
I don’t agree with Trump’s stance on getting the poison jab, however as I more than suspect he may be playing a card unknown to us where MSM & Big Tech are concerned on all this vaccine mandates stuff being pushed by the JRB people & media…
Overall the rally was a success & the people want their President back in office as I do too & not in 2024…
Bill on the Hill… :~)

johnh
johnh
2 years ago

One thing that baffles me is that our National debt went up 12-years straight during Obama & Trump terms. At ave. of Trillion dollars/year, makes me wonder about both parties and what will this debt mean to future of America & future generations.

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