Lynda Blanchard’s fledgling campaign to succeed retiring Alabama GOP Sen. Richard Shelby seemed to be progressing smoothly as she mingled with donors inside Mar-a-Lago’s gilded ballroom last Saturday.

She had the bio, having served as ambassador to Slovenia — the native home of former First Lady Melania Trump. She had the connections, having received a surprise visit from former President Donald Trump at one point in the evening. She even had the public shout out to tout on the trail.

“I can say you did a great job as ambassador,” Trump had told the crowd.

But within days, Blanchard’s effort to position herself as the Trump-approved candidate in the race was thrown into jeopardy as it became clear that the 45th president was leaning toward supporting Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) in the GOP primary for Shelby’s seat. Four people familiar with Trump’s thinking said Brooks was his preferred candidate and would most likely receive an endorsement in the foreseeable future — if not on Monday, when Brooks is due to formally launch his campaign, then at a later point in the race.

“President Trump could jump out on Monday and do it, but he is also interested in waiting to make a big splash later on,” said one of the people familiar with Trump’s thinking.

Even Brooks himself seemed confident in Trump’s backing. During a phone call Wednesday afternoon — which was overheard by these two reporters as the Alabama member of congress was entering a conservative hub on Capitol Hill — Brooks told an unidentified person: “The president told me that when I do announce he would say good, strong, positive things about me.” Brooks’ team did not respond to a request for comment.

Indeed, few in Trump’s inner circle expected that the former president would ever endorse Blanchard over Brooks, who was among the first Republican lawmakers to announce a challenge against the 2020 election results last December and had the “inside track” for the 45th president’s nod, according to one Trump aide.

Source: politico.com, rawstory.com

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