Moore wins Alabama primary
by admin · Published · Updated
Former Alabama judge Roy Moore has won the state’s Republican Senate runoff, a victory that will threatens establishment Republicans and hands President Trump his first electoral loss since taking office.
Moore led every public poll since he and Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.) advanced to the runoff in August. And the former state Supreme Court justice’s reputation as a conservative firebrand won him the enthusiasm of the party grassroots, even as Strange and his allies outspent him by a staggering margin.
But now that the GOP’s insurgent wing has taken its first Republican incumbent scalp, establishment Republicans now have to reckon with what that means for the party’s future.
Moore ran as an unabashed opponent of the Washington establishment and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), whose allies poured more than $10 million into the race on Strange’s behalf. That message drew support from many high profile anti-establishment forces, including former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon and a handful of House Freedom Caucus members.
Trump’s decision to endorse Strange aligned him with unusual allies, siding with McConnell and the GOP establishment over the insurgent forces that helped drive his presidential campaign. Now, after taking McConnell’s advice, he sits on the losing side of a race for the first time since his election.
Strange had hoped that support from the White House would help to push him over the edge. But even as the president doubled down on his endorsement by appearing at a rally last week backing Strange, he appeared uncomfortable being pulled in that direction. He mused on stage about whether he made a “mistake” by backing Strange and committed to campaign “like hell” for Moore if he won.
That hesitation and lack of urgency may have muted Trump’s endorsement, as polls in the final days showed that Trump’s decision had little impact.
He’s been thrown off the bench twice for disregarding a court order—first in refusing to remove a Ten Commandments statue he commissioned for state grounds and later for ignoring the federal Supreme Court’s legalization of gay marriage. And during the campaign, he’s called for McConnell to be removed from his position as leader and criticized the recent ObamaCare repeal plan, making clear he’ll be anything but the safe-yes vote for the GOP agenda that Strange has been.
“McConnell had no other choice because they are not going to be able to predict Roy Moore’s vote, he will be a wildcard,” former Alabama Republican state Rep. Steve Flowers told The Hill.
But the victory reverberates far outside the halls of the Senate, as the party’s insurgent wing believes Moore’s victory will be a catalyst for an explosion of primary challenges across the country.
While Bannon played a key role mostly behind the scenes, he unleashed the power of Breitbart News on the race in the final weeks, turning the conservative news website into a de facto arm of the Moore effort. And he spoke Monday night at a pro-Moore rally where he eviscerated Strange and the GOP establishment and warned that a Moore victory would only be the beginning.
“For Mitch McConnell and Ward Baker and Karl Rove and Steven Law, all the instruments that tried to destroy Roy Moore and his family, your day of reckoning is coming,” he said Monday night, naming McConnell alongside prominent SLF allies.
Alongside Bannon, the pro-Trump Great America Alliance and key members and aides in the House Freedom Caucus came to Alabama looking to ensure a Moore victory.
In their minds, Alabama was the test case — and they succeeded.
Strange is now a lame-duck senator who will step down once the victor of December’s special general election is crowned. Strange had been appointed to fill the seat in February, when longtime Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) vacated the seat to become Trump’s attorney general.