The Republican National Committee has approved funding for the Alabama special election, likely to support incumbent U.S. Sen. Luther Strange.
As reported by POLITICO’s Alex Isenstadt, the long-delayed has recently become “a point of contention between Senate Republicans and the White House,” over Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ old seat.
Much of the problem seems to rest with the convoluted campaign finance rules which Isenstadt describes as “weeks of closed-door talks, inflamed tensions between Senate GOP leaders and the administration and touched on a central issue: how the insurgent-minded Trump White House will approach party primaries.”
The approval allows the National Republican Senatorial Committee to spend more than $350,000 on the race to benefit Strange, facing a crowded 10-person field for the Aug. 15 Republican primary, which includes U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks and former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore. A primary runoff, if necessary, will be Sept. 26; the general election is Dec. 12.
Among those backing Strange are Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, through two McConnell-aligned groups — the NRSC and Senate Leadership Fund.
For the past few weeks, McConnell has lobbied to get RNC to approve the cash infusion, but foot dragging so frustrated the majority leader that he appealed directly to former RNC chair and current White House chief of staff Reince Priebus. Strange also talked personally with President Donald Trump.
Isenstadt writes that some close to McConnell thought the holdup could be due to bureaucratic disorganization — or the administration was intentionally staying out of the primary, giving a glimpse into how the White House might handle future political battles.