Shelby sides against Trump in Alabama Senate race

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Republican Richard Shelby is backing his former chief of staff Katie Boyd Britt in the race to succeed him in the Senate, siding against former President Donald Trump's favored candidate, Rep. Mo Brooks.

"She's like family. She'd make a good candidate. She's probably the best-qualified candidate to come along in a long time," Shelby said in an interview. "I'd support her, I'd vote for her."

Shelby is retiring next year and has shown a keen sense of independence in his state's most recent Senate races. In 2017 he declined to back Roy Moore against former Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), helping Jones defeat the embattled GOP nominee in bright-red Alabama.

And as he prepares to step down after six terms, Shelby is keeping some distance from Trump. Trump endorsed Brooks in April. The National Republican Senatorial Committee is expected to remain neutral in open-seat primaries, and the winner of the GOP primary will be heavily favored in the conservative state.

Shelby declined to take a shot at Brooks, only observing: "Could be an interesting race. We'll have to see how it develops." In addition, he made clear he wouldn't take an active role in his former top aide's bid: "She's got to run her own campaign, I'm not running her campaign. She's got her own people."

Britt, who was Shelby's chief of staff from 2016 until 2018, entered the Senate race this week. She also served as a press aide for him earlier in her career. Most recently she's led the Business Council of Alabama. She told The Associated Press that Shelby's six-term legacy is one that will be remembered for being "effective for the state of Alabama."

"I have to stand on my own two feet," she said. "When we get to know the people of Alabama, they'll know that I am the best person to fight for them."

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