Inside the Statehouse

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Steve Flowers

2022 Senate Race Will Be Most Expensive in State History

By Steve Flowers

The marquee race in this big 2022 election year is for our open U.S. Senate seat. It is beginning to percolate.

The race has been raging for over a year already and we are getting poised to begin the final full court press to the finish line. The GOP Primary is three months away on May 24 with a monumental runoff on June 21. The winner on that day will be Shelby’s successor.

Early on, it appeared to be a two person race between Mo Brooks and Katie Britt. However, Mike Durant has surged out of the blue with a three  month media bombardment and made it a three way race.

All three candidates appear to be well-financed and ready for a three month battle to the finish line. It will be the most expensive race in Alabama political history. There are barrels of money flowing into the Heart of Dixie primarily out of the Potamic basin in Washington.

In this modern day of national politics, a candidate’s individual war chest is not the all-telling story. We live in a world of third-party political action committees (PACs). These third party PACs, based out of Washington, will more than likely spend more on their preferred candidate than will be spent by the candidates’ direct campaigns. The candidates’ individual campaign account dollars will go towards positive ads for their candidate. The third-party PAC ads will be negative. These outside PACs are not supposed to work in conjunction or even correspond with their preferred candidate, but they do in actuality. They share polling and media strategy. These innocuous PACs have the meanest, negative media gurus in America. These hired guns relish attacking and destroying their opposition.

Therefore, look for the next three months to be a barrage of negative ads against Brooks, Britt and Durant.

It will be easy to find and exploit negative ammunition on Brooks. He has been in politics for 40 years. Britt and Durant will be harder to ambush as they are making their first races. It will be telling to see how they react to negative attacks.

Brooks is backed by the Club for Growth. He has been the club’s boy for the last 10 years. He fits in with those members, ideologically. The Club for Growth is an ultra-right wing fringe group that funds right-wing antigovernmental free trade candidates mostly in smaller conservative states where  money will go further. The club supposedly promised Brooks $5 million of soft third-party money to commit to the race. That money is there, and they club is spending it. However, a deep dive into the polling shows Brooks sinking.

The wild card in the race is one POW hero, Durant. He has a really good story to tell, and he is telling that story with a well done media buy. He makes no pretense towards campaigning or meeting Alabamians. He probably could not tell you where Conecuh or Bullock County are much less Samson or Slocomb. He is from New Hampshire and moved to Huntsville to build an aerospace company.

Durant is being assisted by a third-party PAC known as the Patriot PAC. This group’s primary donors are very anti-Trump. The primary contributor to this PAC is a wealthy donor named Harriman. His mission is to elect five independent senators who will be swing votes and not align or have allegiance to any party. Harriman scoured the nation to find the perfect military hero to win a Republican seat. He garnered the perfect candidate in Durant, who is coming around the corner like nobody’s business. Durant would be likely to align with moderate Republicans like Mitt Romney and Susan Collins. In Washington, they are referring to Durant as a RINO in uniform.

Therefore, if you really look into the three GOP candidates you see a semblance of national Republican circles vying for a candidate of their persuasion to fill a guaranteed Republican seat.

Brooks would be the Club for Growth, right-wing, fringe candidate that adheres to pro-China trade policies and has no concern for Alabama jobs or federal projects vital to our state. Durant is backed by the Harriman PAC. Britt is the mainstream, conservative, pro-business candidate who understands Alabama and her needs. In fact, she is the only real Alabamian in the race.

It will be an interesting and an expensive three-month show. It will be fun to watch. I will keep you posted.

See you next week.

Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. Steve served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve May be reached: www.steveflowers.us.

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