Should we care Roy Moore is once again running to occupy one of Alabama’s two U.S. Senate seats? Probably not, even though it immediately becomes yet another negative measuring stick by which the rest of the country gauges Alabama.
When the disgraced judge and failed senatorial candidate shot the figurative bird to the Republican establishment last week and announced another bid for Jeff Sessions’ former seat, the world went apoplectic, both in-state and outside. No doubt many Alabamians suffered spine-damaging cringes when Sassy’s favorite cowboy defied the party bosses by deciding to square off against U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville, Secretary of State John Merrill and others in the Republican primary.
For his part, Moore seems to believe Alabamians are seething over being tricked by the accusations that cost him the last election — accusations alleging improper contact with teenage girls and mall-cruising for high school girls decades ago. Why he thinks the state that didn’t vote to put him in office is now angry he didn’t win isn’t totally clear.
“People in Alabama are not only angry, they are going to act on that anger,” Moore said. “The people of Alabama are tired of politicians saying one thing and doing another.”
While that quote opens the door to questions about whether a Bible-thumper like Moore getting caught up in a sexual scandal isn’t precisely the definition of a politician saying one thing and doing another, what’s more interesting is his misreading of the last election.
He may be told by hard-core supporters and members of his family that they are angry about what happened to him, but I certainly haven’t seen any signs the average Alabamian is even mildly miffed about not having Roy Moore as senator.
Hard-core Tea Partiers across the state and nation may, like Moore, incorrectly believe he was held out of the U.S. Senate because dirty tricks by his opponents on both sides of the aisle kept Alabamians who really wanted to vote for him from doing so. But he and the national media both either fail or refuse to admit Moore was only there in the first place because he ran against a man who many believe participated in blatant, open bribery.
Even as national reporters were ripping ACLs sprinting through airports to get to Alabama to cover Moore’s important announcement last week, hopefully some had a clear-enough thought process to realize it’s no foregone conclusion the good judge will waltz through the Republican primary. Frankly, a distant fourth finish seems most likely.
And the reason for that is things are very different this go-round. There’s no slimy, Big Luther Strange slithering out of the swamp, sucking up to an embattled governor for an appointment to fill Sessions’ seat. Luther Strange was the secret spice in the judge’s special recipe in 2017, but Big Luther’s nowhere to be found as 2020 looms.
National pundits have always looked at Moore losing to Doug Jones the wrong way. They’ve treated it as astonishing a super right wing theocrat with a multitude of sexual allegations would come so close to beating a centrist Democrat like Doug Jones. What is overlooked is how Alabamians on both sides of the political divide came together to defeat Moore. That wasn’t a tough vote for the state’s Democrats, but for Republicans it meant pulling the trigger for a guy who — although he does so in a calm, reasoned fashion — supports most liberal orthodoxy pushed by his party’s leadership in DC.
In other words, normally in Alabama if you run a pro-abortion, anti-Trump Democrat in a statewide election, you can expect the echoes from that spanking to bounce off the walls for months. A lot of people who ordinarily wouldn’t have voted for Jones did exactly that because Moore was not an option, and Strange had been even more of a non-option.
Did people vote for Moore in the primary fully intending to vote for Jones in the general? Absolutely. Had Luther Strange not been a political cow pile I don’t think Moore would have had a prayer in the primary. Perhaps because he was never indicted or disbarred, Big Luther pursuing an appointment to the U.S. Senate from the very governor his office was investigating is seldom mentioned as cause and effect for his failure against Moore. But it was huge.
I would argue a decent percentage of Moore voters in the 2017 primary were people who thought Luther Strange should be looking at jail time for what he did. Strange seemed mainstream enough and certainly had all the backing in the world from D.C., which made the idea of voting for him in the primary, then Jones in the general, seem much riskier. Many realized Moore in the general would be a much more beatable candidate, which he proved to be. It was a rejection of the GOP trying to ram Luther down our throats and a rejection of Moore’s antics as well.
It’s not surprising a goofball candidate like Moore would get a large number of votes as the Republican candidate in Alabama. That’s hardly news. I’m sure anyone who secured the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in California or New York would get a large number of votes, regardless of his background. In fact, as polarized as we are in this country, it’s hard to imagine a run-over dog not drawing at least 40 percent as either party’s standard-bearer in a run for senate.
The Roy Moore saga is a strange one for sure. Some of the accusations against him in the last election seemed ginned up, others didn’t. He admitted to having gotten a girl’s mother’s permission to date her, which certainly seems like an admission he liked teens. Whether Moore is the “pedophile” he’s often labeled might be debatable, but that we’re still having that conversation isn’t going to help him at all in this race.
In Byrne and Tuberville, Moore faces two candidates in a big hurry to see who can get the bigger Donald Trump tramp stamp tattooed on his lower back, and he already has the president and Senate Majority Leader publicly against him. Moore is depending upon an outrage factor that doesn’t exist to propel him to a rematch against Jones.
It’s like starting a race with a car on empty. I don’t see Roy Moore going far no matter how much people in the national media believe he’s the epitome of what it means to be an Alabamian.
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