MOBILE, Ala — (WKRG) Alabama’s Primary Election is one year away, and a local political analyst says the open U.S. Senate is likely to be decided by former President Donald Trump’s endorsement of Huntsville area congressman Mo Brooks.
“At this point, I think it’s Mo’s to lose,” said Jon Gray, of Strategy Research. Gray has run dozens of campaigns in Alabama, mostly of Republican candidates.
A year out from the primary, Brooks and former U.S. Ambassador Lynda Blanchard are the only Republican candidates. Secretary of State John Merrill withdrew from the race after a woman came forward and said she had a long-running affair with the married politician.
Brooks is not well known outside North Alabama and finished a distant third in the 2017 Republican Senate primary to Roy Moore and Luther Strange. Gray, however, says the Trump endorsement means everything in this race.
“Whether you’re a fan of him or not, the former president carries a lot of weight in Alabama, ” Gray said. “The reason the endorsement is so important is that it’s cooled the jets of anybody else who would get in that race. Who do you go to raise money? “
Gray says he expects Brooks to run a senate campaign similar to the one run successfully last year in Alabama by Tommy Tuberville: get the Trump endorsement, and say and campaign little.
“That’s what I believe their game plan is,” said Gray.
Gray says he still believes that a couple of other Republicans might join the race, hoping Brooks “slips up.”
“Tweleve months is a long time, ” said Gray.
Richard Shelby is not running for re-election after six terms in office. The last time this particular Alabama senate seat did not feature an incumbent was 1968.