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Katie Britt and James Lankford

Britt steps into the spotlight

Sen. Katie Britt (R-Ala.) has largely shunned the spotlight since being sworn into the Senate 14 months ago.

That’s about to change.

Britt, the youngest Republican woman ever elected to the Senate, will deliver the GOP response to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address tonight.

In many ways, Britt was a natural choice for party leadership here. The role typically elevates someone viewed as a rising star in the party. Britt fits that bill. And choosing the 42-year-old Britt allows Republicans to draw a contrast with Biden, whose age is an issue for voters in his reelection bid.

Britt is also one of the few parents of school-aged children in the Senate, an institution where the median age is 65. She has bonded over this with fellow young parents, Sens. Laphonza Butler (D-Calif.) and Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.).

“She knows this place well. She knows the issues,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) told us of Britt. “Us old white guys aren’t as popular as we used to be.”

Senate GOP leaders gave Britt two high-profile platforms that are rare for a freshman. Britt was tapped to serve on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s leadership team and given a coveted spot on the Appropriations Committee.

At the same time, Britt — a one-time chief of staff to former Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) — has been cautious throughout her nascent Senate tenure. Britt isn’t a bomb-thrower and hasn’t sought out media coverage. This makes Britt a truly unusual breed in the Senate — someone liked by conservatives, establishment Republicans and even Democrats.

“She’s a very effective communicator, and they would do well to elevate her. So I’m torn between rooting for my colleague and my own partisan instincts,” Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) told us. “Suffice to say, I think she was a smart choice.”

Among freshman GOP senators, Britt has been an outlier. While her colleagues are regularly going on TV and otherwise trying to elevate their public profiles, Britt is growing her influence behind the scenes.

In December, we reported that Britt served as a key intermediary between her fellow Alabamian, GOP Sen. Tommy Tuberville, and Republican leaders as they tried to resolve the impasse over Tuberville’s military promotions blockade.

That’s a markedly different approach from that of other GOP senators who took to the Senate floor to publicly hammer Tuberville and pressure him to relent.

Britt won’t publicly comment on her long-term aspirations, but senators in both parties have remarked to us that they see a future role for her in leadership, maybe even party leader at some point.

— Andrew Desiderio

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Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.