Retiring Republican Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama plans to spend $5 million of his own campaign money to help his former chief of staff beat the candidate backed by Donald Trump to replace him, a new report said on Thursday.
Shelby has told allies he will help fund an independent SuperPAC supporting Katie Britt, who, after leaving his staff, served as the CEO of the Business Council of Alabama, to win the GOP nomination to replace him, The Washington Post reported, citing two poeple who know of the senator’s plans.
The massive infusion of cash will likely have a deep impact on the race, where Republican Rep. Mo Brooks, who has pushed Trump’s election conspiracies, has struggled to raise the funds needed to win the primary.
Shelby, who is retiring in 2022 after six terms in the Senate, has $9.7 million in cash in his campaign account and $6.5 million in his leadership PAC.
Retiring Republican Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama plans to spend $5 million of his own campaign money to help his candidate defeat Donald Trump’s in primary to replace him
Sen. Richard Shelby is backing his former chief of staff Katie Britt in GOP primary while Donald Trump is backing Republican Rep. Mo Brooks
Blair Taylor, a spokeswoman for Shelby, would not speak to the Post about the senator’s spending plans.
‘The Senator’s support for Katie is well known,’ she said in a statement. ‘He will continue to back her as the race develops in whatever ways are most appropriate, as he believes she is the best candidate to serve the people of Alabama.’
Republicans are expected to hold Shelby’s seat in the deep red state, making the primary contest the one to win.
Brooks told the Post he is not surprised by Shelby’s support of Britt.
‘I entered this race after factoring in that Richard Shelby would probably put millions in on Katie Britt’s behalf,’ Brooks said. ‘They are hand in glove.’
Brooks, who has served in the House since 2011, has supported Trump’s false theories the election was stolen from him. He has the endorsement of the former president, who won Alabama with 62 percent in 2020.
He spoke at a rally near the White House before the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, urging his fellow Republicans to reject the presidential election results.
Donald Trump has been making endorsements in GOP primaries ahead of 2022 midterm election
Trump endorsed GOP Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville in 2020 and Tuberville won – Trump and Tuberville are seen together on the campaign trail in June 2020
Tuberville defeated Democratic Sen. Doug Jones, seen above making his concession speech on election night 2020
Trump has been vocal in his support for Brooks and has called Britt a ‘RINO’ – a Republican In Name Only – who would answer to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.
Britt is ‘not what Alabama wants,’ Trump said in a statement in July shortly after she announced her campaign.
‘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.
But Shelby defied Trump and backed Britt from the start of the campaign, telling Politico she is ‘family.’
‘She’s like family. She’d make a good candidate. She’s probably the best-qualified candidate to come along in a long time,’ Shelby said. ‘I’d support her, I’d vote for her.’
Some Republicans have been concerned about Trump’s interference in the primaries for the 2022 midterms.
There are fears that, if the more conservative candidate Trump favors wins the primary, the GOP could lose the general election and thus endangering the party’s chances to take control of Congress in next year’s election.
That is unlikely to happen in Alabama, which has a history of sending Republicans to Washington D.C.
Doug Jones was the last Democrat the state elected to the Senate. He won after Republican candidate Roy Moore was accused of inappropriate contact with teenage girls while in his 30s.
Jones was the first Democrat to represent the state in the U.S. Senate since 1997.
Shelby made waves in 2017 when he announced weeks before the special Senate election that he would not vote for Moore, citing Moore’s behavior with girls.
Jones ran for a full term in 2020 and lost to Republican Tommy Tuberville, who was Trump’s choice for the Senate.