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Katie Britt and U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks are headed for an Alabama Senate runoff

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Katie Britt arrives to talk with supporters during a primary watch party Tuesday in Montgomery, Ala.
Butch Dill
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Katie Britt arrives to talk with supporters during a primary watch party Tuesday in Montgomery, Ala.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama's Republican primary for U.S. Senate is going to a June runoff between Katie Britt and U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks after neither candidate captured a majority of the vote.

Britt is Shelby's former chief of staff and the former leader of the Business Council of Alabama. Brooks is a six-term congressman from north Alabama. They will advance to a June 21 runoff, which is required if no candidate captures more than 50% of the initial vote.

The two edged out Mike Durant, a businessman best known as the helicopter pilot shot down and captured in the events chronicled in Black Hawk Down.

Former President Donald Trump had initially endorsed Brooks but rescinded that backing in March, citing unhappiness with Brooks' performance and accusing the conservative congressman of going "woke" for suggesting it was time to move on from Trump's 2020 election fraud claims.

Shelby, one of the Senate's most senior members, announced last year that he would not seek reelection in 2022, igniting the messy GOP primary at a time when the national Republican Party is trying to chart a direction after Trump's departure.

Outside groups have pumped more than $20 million into the Alabama race to either support or oppose one of the frontrunners.

Phil. T. McCuiston Jr., 83, wore a cap emblazoned with "Trump" Monday to hear Brooks speak with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in Huntsville.

"Trump gets 95% of them right, but on this one I'm going to stand with Brooks," said McCuiston, a retired businessman. "He's got the record."

Ashlie Combs, a 40 year-old veteran from Lincoln, said many of the men she served with in Iraq joined the armed forces because of Durant. She said she was impressed by his willingness to sit down with her and discuss ongoing issues for veterans, such as suicide rates.

"To have him sit and listen to me as a person and not just a number, or a box to check off, was great," Combs said.

Jack Graham, 71, cast his vote for Britt in east Montgomery on Tuesday.

"It's time to let the young people take over. Let's see what she can do. I think she's smart. She's level-headed. She has a good background. She's got good experience," Graham said.

The Republican nominee will face the Rev. Will Boyd, a minister and engineer from Hoover, who defeated two opponents in Tuesday's primary. Boyd was the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor in 2018 but lost to Republican Will Ainsworth.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

The Associated Press