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And you know who that doesn’t help? As expected, Katie Britt sailed to an easy victory over Mo Brooks in the Alabama GOP primary to replace retiring Richard Shelby in the US Senate. The win all but seals her general-election win in the deep red state, and positions Britt for a very long run in the upper chamber:
Katie Britt’s runoff victory Tuesday over Rep. Mo Brooks puts her in the position to be the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate from Alabama.
But to political insiders, what is just as important for Alabama residents, is she is positioned to be one of the youngest senators from Alabama since Reconstruction.
“I was told, you’re too young, wait your turn,” Britt, 40, said to a cheering throng of supporters during a victory celebration Tuesday in Montgomery. “One thing is clear. Alabama has spoken. We want new blood. We want fresh blood.”
On that point, it’s not just Alabama that’s speaking. There will be plenty of analysis over whether Donald Trump’s endorsements had any impact here, but that impact appears minimal at best. Trump endorsed Brooks before the runoff and Britt afterward, which didn’t change the trajectory of either candidate much at all. An establishment/populist narrative doesn’t work here either, since Brooks was more the populist candidate in this race, while Britt’s work as Shelby’s chief of staff for two years and another two years as CEO of the Business Council of Alabama put her more in the establishment mold.
In the end, voters in Alabama wanted a younger, fresher face in Washington. So did voters in the TX-34 House runoff last week that sent Mayra Flores to Congress as the first Republican from the Rio Grande Valley in, well, forever. That has developed into a pattern in the midterm Senate primaries, notes Aaron Blake at the Washington Post, and not just in the GOP:
Britt also stands out in another way: She’s just 40 years old. If and when she’s elected, she’ll almost definitely be the youngest woman in the Senate.
But she’s the latest young candidate with a good shot at joining that chamber of Congress. In Ohio, the GOP nominee is 37-year-old J.D. Vance. In Nevada, it’s 43-year-old Adam Laxalt. And in Arizona, Trump recently backed 35-year-old Blake Masters, who appears to be gaining in the race for the GOP nomination. Meanwhile, the Democratic battle to face Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) is between two Democrats in their mid-30s, along with another who is 40. And Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-Alaska) GOP challenger, Kelly Tshibaka, is in her early 40s.
Were any of them to join the Senate, they would be among the youngest senators. Only two current senators are younger than 45 years old, and readers may be surprised to learn that neither of them is Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.).
It’s too simple to say voters are looking for youth. But in a country in which nearly all the top leaders in government are in their 70s or even their 80s, our last two presidents have been the oldest ever elected, and the average age in the Senate is the highest ever, it’s something worth watching.
Not all of the youth candidates will win, but enough of them are shoving aside their elders to take notice. That should worry leadership of both parties, where septuagenarians and older have gripped control through several electoral cycles. That point is especially acute, however, for Democrats, where a doddering Joe Biden presides in the White House and an even older leadership clique around Nancy Pelosi still hopes to cling to power.
The whispers in DC about Biden’s health and cognition even get some attention today in the Beltway’s insider journal, The Hill:
President Biden can’t escape questions about his age, a fact of life that’s causing uneasy Democrats to assess whether he can realistically run for reelection in 2024, when he will be 81 years old.
Conversations that were once whispered in private are spilling out into the public amid angst over a potential drubbing for the party in this fall’s midterm elections and existential questions about its future two years later. …
“Look, it’s a problem,” one Democratic strategist acknowledged, speaking without attribution in order to discuss a sensitive topic.
“He’s f—— old and everyone knows it, but no one wants to talk about it for fear of offending him or anyone around him.”
One Biden ally who speaks to aides in the White House frequently said that Biden “looks old and seems old and that’s not a great look for the White House.”
Eighteen months of watching Biden’s decrepitude might have catalyzed voters into recognizing that a lot of people in DC are “f*** old” now. Youth is always more attractive to voters than age, but usually that effect contains itself to non-incumbent election matchups. The endurance of the Baby Boomer politicians has been remarkable given that influence, but Biden’s doddering performance may have finally forced a sea change in perspective in an electorate where Boomers have ever-decreasing numerical clout, if not a realignment.
Of course, having said that, Republicans will also have to contend with this same dynamic. Donald Trump wants to run for the 2024 nomination at 78 years of age and with one term in office already under his belt, having lost to Biden at the end of it. Will Republican voters really want to nominate another elderly man looking backwards for vindication rather than a youthful new contender looking toward the future? Britt’s win in Alabama may very well hold portents for the answer to that question, too.