When Katie Britt announced her run for Senate in Alabama last June, private polling pegged her name recognition at 8% and political support among Republican voters at just 4%.

Nearly one year later, Britt finished first, with 44.75%, in Tuesday’s primary and is favored to defeat Rep. Mo Brooks in a June 21 runoff.

Runoffs are not always hospitable to establishment-backed candidates who win round one but fall short of 50%. Brooks weathered losing former President Donald Trump’s endorsement in March, and he enters the runoff with some momentum. But Britt’s performance in the primary was so sweeping that Alabama GOP insiders are picking her to win the runoff and pick up the party’s Senate nomination without too much trouble.

“It’s pretty baked, in my opinion,” said a Republican operative with Alabama ties who had supported businessman and military veteran Mike Durant in the primary. Durant finished third, with 23.33%, behind Brooks, who garnered 29.15%.

What’s driving the confidence in Britt against a conservative stalwart like Brooks, who theoretically should do well in what is expected to be a low-turnout runoff that might see just 16% to 18% of eligible voters participate? To begin with, Britt won 62 of 67 counties in the primary. Plus, in three of the five counties Britt lost, she fell short by less than 100 votes.


Britt, 40, the former chief of staff to retiring Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), was strong in conservative, rural Alabama — counties chock full of grassroots conservatives where, presumably, Brooks needs to excel if he is to have any chance of pulling an upset.

Meanwhile, Britt is positioned to at least be competitive with the congressman, if not outpace him altogether, in the majority of population centers surrounding Birmingham, Mobile, Montgomery, and Tuscaloosa. Brooks won just two counties in the vicinity of Birmingham — and only narrowly. He was shut out almost everywhere else. Bolstering Britt’s efforts, say knowledgeable Republicans, will be a robust get-out-the-vote field operation that will span the state.

“We will continue to work tirelessly to get our message out and visit all 67 of Alabama’s counties,” Britt said in a statement. “The future of our state is on the ballot.”

The advertising wars in this race, and aggressive campaigning by the candidates, are expected to resume after Memorial Day. In the interim, Alabama Republicans are wondering if Trump will jump back into the race by endorsing Britt or perhaps reiterate his opposition to Brooks. Another unknown: Will the Club for Growth spend lavishly on the congressman, as it did on Rep. Ted Budd in North Carolina?

The Club for Growth’s investment was the key to Budd winning the GOP Senate nomination there, and the group is one of the few (if any) organizations with deep pockets that is in Brooks’s corner. The conservative advocacy group has reserved $1.3 million in advertising so far. Club officials declined to comment Thursday about how involved the group plans to be in the Alabama runoff.

Brooks, 68, is in the midst of his second Senate campaign.

He ran in 2017, in a special election to fill a vacant seat, but failed to make the runoff after coming under fire from Senate Leadership Fund, the super PAC aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who was then the majority leader. This time around, Brooks was targeted by a super PAC jointly funded by Senate Leadership Fund — and Shelby, who is working tirelessly to elect Britt.

But Brooks’s biggest challenge this time has been Trump. The former president endorsed the congressman last June, upon his entry into the race, only to take back his seal of approval nine months later. After advancing to the runoff nonetheless, Brooks referred to himself as “Lazarus” and framed his contest with Britt as the Washington, D.C., political establishment versus the Alabama grassroots.

“This Senate runoff is a battle for the soul of the Republican Party,” Brooks said in a statement. “It is Mitch McConnell’s Katie Britt versus Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Rand Paul, and America First’s MAGA Mo Brooks. Our message to the Washington Swamp must be strong: you cannot buy Alabama’s Senate seat. It is ours.”

In addition to previous endorsements from Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rand Paul (R-KY), Brooks on Thursday unveiled the fresh support of Jessica Taylor, a Republican who dropped her campaign for Senate earlier this year and initially backed Durant. In terms of voter support, the Huntsville area in northern Alabama is Brooks’s home base and a stronghold as the one region where he begins with an advantage.


Three of the five counties he won were in that region, albeit his margin of victory in each was razor-thin.

Under an Alabama law passed five years ago, only voters who participated in the Republican primary on Tuesday, or voters who participated in neither the GOP nor the Democratic primaries, are eligible to cast a ballot in the Britt-Brooks runoff.