Alabama Senate Primary Tightening

Two new surveys reveal that US Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) is rebounding to the point of again becoming competitive for the second runoff position in the Alabama May 24 Republican US Senate primary.

After former President Donald Trump pulled his endorsement from Mr. Brooks, most believed his campaign was dead in the water.

While falling far behind his Republican opponents, former Business Council of Alabama President & CEO Katie Britt and businessman and former “Black Hawk Down” pilot Mike Durant, in fundraising or self-funding in the latter case, the Congressman still pulled in over $2.7 million through the March 31st campaign finance reporting deadline, with over $1.5 million cash-on-hand. Again, a better effort than most would have believed.

Through the same period, Ms. Britt raised $6.4 million with $3.23 million cash-on-hand at the March 31 deadline. Her former boss, retiring Sen. Richard Shelby (R) for whom she served as chief of staff before taking the BCA top job, has pledged to spend lavishly from his ample campaign treasury of almost $10 million to support her with an independent expenditure. Mr. Durant had raised $7.2 million, but $6.8 million of that amount was self-funded.

Putting much of those funds behind a hard hitting statewide ad campaign is likely what brings Rep. Brooks back into competitive position. Therefore, Mr. Trump’s stated perspective that Brooks was running “a bad campaign,” may not prove true as the candidates stream toward the May 24th Yellowhammer State primary election.

The pair of early May surveys suggest that Rep. Brooks is now making this a three-way race. The Moore Information Group (5/2-5; 400 AL likely Republican primary voters; live interview) finds Ms. Britt leading her competition with 27%, while Rep. Brooks and Mr. Durant follow in a 20% tie for the second runoff position.

The next poll from McLaughlin & Associates, conducted during the same time period (5/2-5; 500 AL likely Republican primary voters; live interview & text), gives Ms. Britt a larger lead at 37% before projecting Mr. Durant in second place with 27%, and Rep. Brooks closely trailing at 22%. The combined data suggests that Ms. Britt is the clear leader, with the second runoff slot undecided.

In Alabama, if no one reaches the 50% mark in the primary, the top two finishers will advance to a runoff election on June 21. Polling suggests that moving to a secondary election in this open Republican US Senate primary is a virtual certainty, since none of the candidates appear near the majority support plateau.

Mr. Brooks began the campaign as the dominant leader, in fact reaching support percentages as high as 59 and 55 in early cycle polls taken last year. His big lead began to quickly diminish, however, and Ms. Britt actually topped him in a November 3-8 TargetPoint Consulting survey with a slight 31-30% margin.

The Congressman’s most recent advantage came in a Cherry Communications poll (February 2-6; leading 34-29-34%). He has fallen off precipitously since then, which coincided with ad drives from both Ms. Britt and Mr. Durant, along with Mr. Trump changing his mind about the endorsement, and then publicly trashing the Brooks campaign. The Emerson College March 25-27 research study pinned Rep. Brooks to a low of 12% support. 

With the Democrats filing only minor candidates, the Republican nomination process will identify the next Senator. The closing weeks of this campaign promise to be interesting with Mr. Brooks making what looks to be a successful drive to re-establish himself as a competitive contender.

At this point, it appears that Ms. Britt will secure a runoff position, with a tight battle between Durant and Brooks to capture the second slot.

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