Katie Britt won the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate on Tuesday, fusing establishment support and a major cash advantage to defeat U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks in a runoff.
As of 9:44 p.m., with 65% of the vote counted in unofficial returns, Britt had 229,958 votes (64.5%). Brooks had 126,575 votes (35.5%).
“Alabama has spoken,” Britt said in an address to her supporters on Tuesday night. “We want new blood. We want fresh blood. We want someone who will fight for our Christian conservative values, who will fight for the freedom and liberty this nation was founded on.”
Britt, a former president and CEO of the Business Council of Alabama, won a year-long battle in a field where the Republican candidates had few if any ideological differences but attacked one another over their professional backgrounds or alleged deviations from party orthodoxy.
Alabama runoff election 2022:4 Republican races, 1 Democratic contest on statewide ballot
Previously:Katie Britt won’t debate Mo Brooks ahead of June 21 Alabama GOP Senate runoff
Britt dominated every county in early returns, building on a strong performance in rural Alabama in the May 24 primary while improving her performance in Alabama’s cities and suburbs. Brooks had tried to win supporters of Mike Durant, who finished third on May 24, and turn the election into a referendum on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky.
Brooks delivered an angry concession speech Tuesday night, suggesting Britt was Democrat and saying “special interests” who promoted “open borders and cheap labor” had undermined his campaign.
“I’d be remiss if I did not congratulate the Alabama Democratic Party for helping to ensure the Democrat nominee in the Republican primary won,” he said in remarks broadcast by WAFF. “So congratulations to the Alabama Democratic Party … they have two nominees in the general election, Will Boyd, and my opponent.”
Statewide turnout stood at 11% as of 9:49 p.m., with 64 of the state’s 67 counties reporting results to the Alabama Secretary of State’s office.
Britt took about 45% of the vote in the May 24 primary, winning 62 of 67 counties and doing particularly well in the Wiregrass and rural portions of south Alabama. Brooks took 29% of the vote, with his strength concentrated around Huntsville, his home, and in suburban counties.
Both campaigns got aggressive from the moment a runoff became clear. Britt called Brooks a career politician and highlighted criticisms Brooks made of Trump’s immigration program in in the 2016 presidential primary, when Brooks was a surrogate for U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign. Brooks suggested that Britt had not done enough to advance Trump’s false narrative that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.
Britt was aided by the Senate Leadership Fund, a political action committee aligned with McConnell; Brooks was boosted by the Washington, D.C.-based Club for Growth.
But there was barely a photon of sunlight between the candidates on major issues. Both were pro-gun, pro-border wall and anti-abortion, with a heavy focus on national issues and less discussion of state-specific needs. With few differences on issues, voters who cast ballots in Montgomery and Pike Road on Tuesday said they looked mostly at who the candidates were.
“I think it’s just time for a change,” said Dee McBrayer, a firefighter from Pike Road who voted for Britt on Tuesday. “Maybe get someone young in there who can change what’s going on.”
Mona McDermott, who voted for Brooks at Frazier United Methodist Church in Montgomery, said she liked the congressman’s stand on issues.
“He was really consistent with his stands and didn’t care what the political operatives thought about it,” she said.
Brooks’ ceaseless insistence on the false story of election theft got him Trump’s endorsement last year. But when Brooks faltered in the polls against Britt and earlier this spring, Trump withdrew his endorsement, citing comments Brooks made at a rally in August 2021 that encouraged Republican voters to move on and look ahead to the next election. Brooks tried to keep Trump neutral in the race, noting McConnell’s support for Britt.
More about Katie Britt:Katie Boyd Britt wants to solve the state’s problems, but is that what Alabama wants?
Past coverage:Katie Britt, Mo Brooks headed to runoff for Republican Senate nomination
But Trump, whose endorsements are following trends and not creating them, endorsed Britt on June 10. Britt Tuesday night thanked Trump for “helping us wrap this thing up.” Republican voters said Tuesday the former president’s preferences had at best a partial effect on their vote; most said it had no effect at all.
“We can think for ourselves,” said Rick Groover, a Baptist missionary who voted for Brooks with his wife Tracy at Pike Road. “We don’t need Donald Trump.”
Sandra Cusey of Montgomery said she was already planning to vote for Britt before Trump’s endorsement.
“I just like what she stands for,” she said. “I’m a Trump supporter; I’ll vote for anybody he endorses. But I like what she has said.”
Britt said as senator she wanted to increase economic opportunity “regardless of zip code,” and suggested she wanted to work on suicide prevention and addiction treatment.
Brooks’ play for supporters of Mike Durant could have improved his performance in several rural counties in northern and eastern Alabama. But Durant said after the primary he did not plan to endorse in the race.
Britt will face Democratic nominee Will Boyd in the November election.
Contact Montgomery Advertiser reporter Brian Lyman at 334-240-0185 or [email protected].