WASHINGTON — President Trump intervened Tuesday in the special Senate election in Alabama, bestowing a coveted endorsement on Senator Luther Strange a week before a Republican primary that has been fought, in part, over who has been most loyal to the president.
In a surprise move that caught many in the Republican Party off guard, Mr. Trump tweeted that Mr. Strange “has done a great job representing the people of the Great State of Alabama.”
Mr. Trump’s decision to wade into the race to fill the seat left vacant by Attorney General Jeff Sessions will test just how much clout the president enjoys among Republicans in a state where he remains highly popular.
Mr. Strange has been locked in a close race with Representative Mo Brooks and Roy Moore, the controversial former state Supreme Court justice. There are also a number of other, lesser-known Republicans vying for the nomination. If nobody gets over 50 percent in the Aug. 15 vote, the party’s nominee will be decided in a September runoff.
Mr. Strange, who heard from the president about his plans earlier Tuesday, had been lobbying for weeks to win Mr. Trump’s support, singing the president’s praises in TV ads, online and through as many Fox News appearances he could schedule. Mr. Strange and his allies also have made Mr. Brooks’s attacks last year on Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign a centerpiece of the primary.
Reince Priebus, the former White House chief of staff, had been uneasy about Mr. Trump spending political capital in such a fluid campaign — especially with Mr. Brooks, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, also in the field.