(Quin Hillyer, Liberty Headlines) Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore trounced incumbent U.S. Sen. Luther Strange, and embarrassed President Donald Trump and especially Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, in Tuesday’s special-election Republican primary runoff for the remainder of the Senate term left open by now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Moore won by 9.2 percentage points, a virtual landslide, even though Strange had been backed by $9 million from a McConnell-affiliated political action committee, plus $4 million in official campaign money of his own – plus the enthusiastic, repeated endorsements from Trump in a state Trump himself had carried handily last November. By contrast, Moore received little outside financial help, and ran his own campaign on less than $2 million.
Strange had been appointed in a controversial fashion by disgraced then-Gov. Robert Bentley, who was under criminal investigation by Strange’s office (and others) at the very same time Strange sought the appointment. Reports also were rampant that McConnell and his political team threatened serious political reprisals against any candidate who ran against Strange and to any political consultant who worked for any opponent of Strange.
But Moore has a powerful organization of his own, one based on churches and social media, and thus almost completely immune from Washington power brokers. Moore himself had been evicted twice from his job as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, once for fighting federal court orders concerning a Ten Commandments monument and once for fighting federal court orders regarding marriage licenses for homosexuals. But many Alabamans repeatedly told pollsters that they saw Moore not as an ethics offender but as someone who fell on his sword for principle.
Many national populist-conservative leaders had bucked Trump and McConnell, endorsing Moore instead. Among them were former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon, and radio hosts Sean Hannity, Mark Levin and Steve Deace.
This was a runoff for the Republican nomination, after Moore led the first primary with 39 percent of the vote to Strange’s 32 percent and several other candidates splitting the rest. Both of the two other major contenders, U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks and state Sen. Trip Pittman, also endorsed Moore in the runoff, with the conservative Brooks having endured particularly strenuous attacks from Strange and from McConnell’s PAC.
Brooks’s campaign consultant Jordan Gehrke released an analysis of Tuesday’s results calling Moore’s huge victory “a stunning rebuke to Mitch McConnell and the Washington establishment…. Our polling told us Alabama Republicans were deeply hostile to Mitch McConnell.” He reported that some 56 percent of respondents said McConnell’s endorsement made them less likely to vote for Strange, while only 11 percent said it made them more likely to do so.
In sum, Gehrke said, McConnell and his team “threatened people, they wasted money, and they misled President Trump into thinking this race was close.” Gehrke said the result is this: “Tonight’s victory for Roy Moore was not simply an isolated incident: the Alabama Senate race will now become a playbook for conservative outsiders across the country. They now know that if they put Mitch McConnell on the ballot, they can beat him.”
Moore now faces Democratic nominee Doug Jones in a December general election. The only major public poll matching Moore and Jones, taken two weeks ago, showed Moore with a narrow four-point advantage at the time.
Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2017 Liberty Headlines