By Devan Cole and Gabby Orr, CNN
Former President Donald Trump has endorsed Alabama Senate hopeful Katie Britt as she competes for the Republican nomination in a runoff primary against US Rep. Mo Brooks.
Trump’s endorsement on Friday of Britt, the former president and CEO of the Business Council of Alabama, comes months after he withdrew his support of Brooks, accusing him of going “woke” on calls for the 2020 election outcome to be overturned. The runoff contest is set for June 21.
“Katie Britt, on the other hand, is a fearless America First Warrior,” Trump said in the statement. “Katie is an Incredible Fighter for the people of Alabama. As President and CEO of Alabama’s Business Council, Katie has been working hard to Grow Alabama’s Economy, Create Jobs, and Restore the Great American Dream.”
The endorsement, however, has rankled many of his top supporters who characterize Britt as a candidate of the Republican establishment.
“This is a gut punch. Very disappointing,” conservative radio host Mark Levin wrote in a post on Truth Social — the alternative social media platform backed by Trump — upon learning that Britt had earned Trump’s support.
“Britt is a McConnell-supported RINO,” he added.
Pro-Trump author Ryan Girdusky also posted his support of Brooks alongside Trump’s endorsement
Former Trump campaign spokeswoman Katrina Pierson posted an article by right-wing outlet Breitbart claiming that Britt has surrounded herself with campaign operatives and donors belonging to the Never Trump wing of the GOP.
“This Katie Britt? Of course he did,” Pierson wrote.
The Republican Senate primary in Alabama went to a runoff after none of the candidates hoping to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Richard Shelby were able to win more than 50% of the vote last month. Britt, a former Shelby aide, and Brooks both finished ahead of Army veteran Mike Durant.
Trump’s disavowal of Brooks, who was the first Republican congressman to vote against certifying the 2020 election results on January 6, 2021, also gave Britt momentum in the race, and her campaign trained its focus on Durant.
Britt has cast herself as a Trump-aligned conservative while arguing that Brooks, a six-term congressman, is a career politician who only recently embraced the former President after heavily criticizing him during the 2016 GOP presidential primary.
Perhaps most annoyed with Trump’s entry into the runoff was Brooks. In a statement shared by his campaign, Brooks blasted the former President as “the only man in American politics who could get conned by Mitch McConnell twice.”
“Let’s just admit it: Trump endorses the wrong people sometimes. He endorses Mitt Romney, he endorses John McCain and now he’s endorsed Katie Britt, who his own son, Don Jr. called ‘Alabama’s Liz Cheney,’” the Brooks campaign wrote.
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CNN’s Dan Merica and Melanie Zanona contributed to this report.