The three leaders of the Republican Senate race in Alabama have experienced staggering rises and, in some cases, precipitous declines, with the result that Representative Mo Brooks and two new candidates, Katie Britt and Mike Durant, came close in Tuesday’s primaries in the recent election. poll. Unless someone goes above 50 percent, which seems unlikely, there will be a split between the top two.
One factor driving the ups and downs in the race is a flood of attack ads from outside groups with deep pockets tailored to the candidates, who have spent freely to boost negative impressions of their rivals. When voters say they aren’t guided by TV ads, Alabama is Exhibit 1 that they aren’t.
Brooks, who took a lead in the race last year and was backed by former President Donald J. Trump, was attacked by a super PAC that received $2 million from the Senate leadership fund, which is aligned with Senator Mitch McConnell. The GOP Senate leader, who is often at odds with Mr Trump over his influence in the party, does not want hard-core Mr Brooks to join his caucus next year.
An assault ad paid for by the super PAC funded in part by the McConnell group pulled up old clips of Mr Brooks — a leader of Mr Trump’s crusade to undo the 2020 election — scorning him in 2016. “I don’t think you can trust Donald Trump with anything he says,” Brooks said at the time.
During the time the ad was in the air, Mr Brooks saw his support drop to 16 percent in one poll. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Trump withdrew his approval. mr. Brooks has since regained his competitive edge, thanks in no small part to attacking ads targeting his two rivals.
mr. Durant, a retired army pilot who had a role in the 1993 Somalia episode “Black Hawk Down”, appeared to lead the race in the spring. But lately, he’s been faltering after being raked over the coals by a group calling itself Alabama RINO PAC, which is funded in part by the McConnell-affiliated group. In an ad, quoted without context, Mr. Durant once held at the US Army War College, says, “The first thing that needs to be done is disarm the population.”
Another ad went after a supporter of Mr Durant as “a top Never Trumper”.
The money behind both the anti-Brooks and anti-Durant ads comes from supporters, in the state and beyond, from Ms. Britt, a former chief of staff to Senator Richard C. Shelby, whose retirement has opened the seat.
But Mrs Britt barely escaped unscathed. The Club for Growth, the powerful anti-tax group in Washington that supports Mr. Brooks, is trying to undermine Mrs. Britt. An ad says she’s “truly a lobbyist” because of a previous job with an Alabama business group; it goes on to quote a tweet from Donald Trump Jr. in 2021 – when his father Mr. Brooks – who called her “the Alabama Liz Cheney.”
Many of the attacks appeared to have landed on voters, but also apparently confused them. There is no clear leader in the latest polls.