Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is accelerating his campaign to defeat Rep. Mo Brooks in a special Senate election in Alabama.
The Kentucky Republican, through his affiliated super PAC and political nonprofit, is trying to clear a path for appointed Sen. Luther Strange in the Aug. 15 special primary. Brooks, a Republican and member of the House Freedom Caucus, has emerged as Strange's chief obstacle.
Senate Leadership Fund, McConnell's super PAC, and One Nation, SLF's 501(c)4 sister organization, have been alternating weeks on Alabama television with ads promoting Strange.
This week, SLF is expected to ratchet up the pressure on Brooks with ads attacking the congressman for opposing President Trump during the 2016 GOP presidential primary. Brooks supported Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas in that race.
"Being anti-Trump in Alabama will hurt Mo Brooks," SLF spokesman Chris Pack told the Washington Examiner in an interview. Unlike his polling nationally, Trump is popular in Alabama, and the group's polling shows that past opposition to Trump could hurt Brooks, Pack said.
The McConnell super PAC and One Nation have budgeted $10 million to boost Strange in the special election. If neither candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote on Aug. 15, the top two finishers will proceed to a Sept. 26 runoff. The general election is Dec. 12.
On Monday, SLF telegraphed its coming attacks on Brooks with a statement calling him out for receiving the endorsement of a group that opposed Trump during last year's presidential primary.
"It's a no-brainer that a Washington politician with a long history of obstructing Donald Trump would accept the endorsement of a New Jersey Super PAC with a long history of obstructing Donald Trump. Mo Brooks' consistent record of opposing Trump is the number-one issue in this campaign, and his flirtation with the worst anti-Trump group in America just made it worse," Pack said.
Strange, then Alabama's attorney general, was appointed to fill the seat vacated by Republican Jeff Sessions, who resigned after the Senate confirmed his nomination by Trump to become U.S. attorney general.
If Strange wins the special election, he will serve out the remainder of the regular six-year term Sessions won in 2014. Despite McConnell's lobbying efforts, Trump has not endorsed in the special election.