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Live results: Mo's last stand?

(Bob Gathany/AL.com via AP, File)

Poor Mo Brooks. From the start of the MAGA era, he understood what it took to get ahead in the party — kissing Trump’s ass relentlessly. And he put that knowledge to good use, believing it would one day help him advance from the House to the Senate.

But he’s now had two cracks at it and he’s staring at 0-for-2.

In 2017 he challenged Roy Moore and Luther Strange in Alabama’s special election to fill Jeff Sessions’s Senate seat but there was no obvious lane for him in that race. Strange was the establishment candidate and Moore was the uber-populist; when Trump heeded Mitch McConnell’s advice and endorsed Strange instead of Brooks in the belief that he was the party’s best bet to hold the seat, Brooks was left without any argument to primary voters. He failed to make the runoff.

Another, better chance emerged this year when longtime senator Richard Shelby announced he would retire. This time Brooks was well positioned. Moore and Strange weren’t running, leaving Brooks as one of the best-known candidates in the field. More importantly, Brooks had impeccable MAGA credentials, having spoken at the January 6 rally that preceded the insurrection. Those credentials eventually helped land him Trump’s endorsement. The stars had aligned. He was headed to the Senate.

But then it all went wrong. Shelby aide Katie Britt jumped into the race with McConnell’s support. “Black Hawk Down” hero Michael Durant got in too and surged in the polls. Suddenly Brooks found himself in third place, again in danger of failing to make the runoff. That was all Trump needed to see to head for the exits: Fearing a catastrophic Brooks lose, he concocted a reason to un-endorse his candidate, claiming that Brooks saying at a rally that the party should look forward in 2022 was some sort of “woke” betrayal of the “stop the steal” movement. Brooks was irate in the aftermath, revealing that Trump had asked him to work on “rescinding” the 2020 election somehow and to have him reinstated him as president.

With Trump now an enemy, Brooks seemed destined to finish third again. But then a funny thing happened — Durant faltered and Brooks surged, picking up Durant voters opposed to Britt. He finished second in the first round of the primary, making the runoff. And then he held his breath, wondering if Britt’s McConnell pedigree might lead Trump to re-endorse him out of spite for “the Old Crow.”

It was not to be. Trump stuck the knife into Brooks and twisted it, endorsing Britt and calling her “a fearless America First Warrior.” That probably had more to do with her polling than with Trump preferring her on the merits, as one survey taken a few days before the endorsement had her up 55/36 in the runoff with Brooks. After Trump’s endorsement, her lead grew to 58/33. Which means there isn’t much suspense about what’s going to happen tonight.

But it does make a tragic (well, tragicomic) figure out of Mo Brooks, MAGA loyalist, who looks set to be obliterated by a political newbie and have his Senate dreams dashed for good. He did everything a Trump sycophant is supposed to do except poll well, which was ultimately his downfall. Now he’s bitter.

“It’s quite clear that Donald Trump has no loyalty to anyone or anything but himself,” Brooks told me this week…

“Donald Trump just had his head handed to him by Georgia voters, having lost five major races that he endorsed in, and he’s trying to restore his brand,” Brooks said on Tuesday. “And he looked at who he thought had the best chance of winning and that’s who he endorsed. It had nothing to do with philosophy of government other than that, he abandoned the conservative movement and the MAGA agenda in order to try to improve the reputation of his brand.”

Meanwhile, Team Trump is smug at the imminent demise of Brooks’s career. “Mo’s fate was sealed the moment that statement hit his inbox,” said one Trump advisor to CNN, pronouncing Trump’s endorsement of Britt the “kiss of death.” Someday populist Republicans from Alabama will learn that buddying up to Trump will only end in tears for them, but Brooks didn’t learn fast enough.

As it is, given Alabama’s deep red culture, there’s a nonzero chance that the 40-year-old Britt will still be a senator in 2070.

Polls in Alabama close at 7 p.m. ET. Results will be updated moment by moment below. You’ll also find below a widget for the runoffs in GOP House primaries in Georgia, with the 10th District of special interest. That’s because it’s a proxy war between Trump and his nemesis, Brian Kemp: Trump is backing MAGA candidate Vernon Jones while Kemp, fresh off his landslide over David Perdue, has endorsed newcomer Mike Collins. Kemp would love to flex his muscles again at Trump’s expense in his home state but polling has the two candidates in the race within a few points of each other. Use the dropdown menu in the upper right of the widget to follow along.