Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell didn’t fire the first shot in his war with hardline Alabama conservatives, but he’s going to make damn sure he gives ten times as much pain as he receives. McConnell has tasked himself with defending newly appointed Alabama Sen. Luther Strange, who may or may not be crooked, against Strange’s even harder-right Republican primary opponents, Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks and the Talibanesque yet-again-former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore. If that means emptying his super PAC’s coffers against the pair and sabotaging whatever existing base of power they have, so be it.
[I]n a highly unusual step, one of McConnell’s top political lieutenants has begun quietly advising a long-shot Republican primary candidate running for Brooks’ House seat. The move is designed to get in the congressman’s head and dissuade him from emptying his campaign war chest in the race for Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ old Senate seat.
McConnell has been targeting Brooks as a more likely danger to Strange than Moore, and helping to launch a credible challenge against Brooks’ own seat may count as the only “quiet” part of McConnell’s anti-Brooks operation. His “Senate Leadership Fund” has been running negative ads against Brooks—hilariously, ads targeting Brooks as being insufficiently pro-Trump, which apparently is still a thing that works among the Alabama conservative base—to an extent rarely seen in an intra-party fight.
Senate Leadership Fund has spent $3.5 million on the race, by far the largest expenditure of any outside group. Yet that figure is expected to grow significantly, especially if no candidate receives a majority of the vote in the Aug. 15 primary and the contest is forced into a September runoff, as is widely expected. The group has pledged to drop $6 million to $8 million.