The Trump-McConnell feud doesn’t exist in the Alabama Senate race.

Rep. Mo Brooks, a conservative candidate in Alabama’s Senate special election Republican primary, speaks on July 15, 2013, in Washington.

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BIRMINGHAM, Alabama—Congressman Mo Brooks has been mystified watching the feud between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Trump play out over the past few days.

Jim Newell is a Slate staff writer.

“It’s like watching a ping-pong ball bounce all over the place,” he told me Thursday morning at a diner in Decatur, where he was campaigning.

In Brooks’ case, the sparring is wholly dissonant with the reality he’s been living in the closing stretch of the Senate special election primary campaign. Though Trump and McConnell—well, mostly Trump—may be waging a show rivalry in the headlines over the Senate’s failure thus far to advance the president’s agenda, they’re united in the Republican establishment’s No. 1 electoral goal this summer: Helping Sen. Luther Strange, a reliable vote, keep the seat he inherited from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, despite two feisty, far-right primary challengers

The Senate Leadership Fund, the McConnell-affiliated super PAC, has bombarded Brooks, the conservative Freedom Caucus member, in television ads and a messaging campaign since the day he declared. Only recently has the group turned its attention to phase two: doing the same thing to Roy Moore, the controversial former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court who has a loyal following among the religious right. And earlier this week, Trump jumped into the race with an endorsement of Strange. It was a critical development in a race that has been largely characterized by the three candidates competing to show the most affection toward Trump, in one of his most admiring states.

Trump’s endorsement of Strange, following months of air support from…

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