Grassroots conservative favorite Roy Moore, a former Alabama Supreme Court Justice, has won the Republican Party’s U.S. Senate runoff election against the establishment-backed Luther Strange.
Cruising to the finish line with a whopping nine-point lead, Moore’s victory flies in the face of the GOP’s leadership including President Donald Trump, who backed Strange alongside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Luther Strange has been serving in the absence of Jeff Sessions following his appointment as attorney general, and polled well in mainstream conservative outlets. He was thought to have no real competition until President Trump decided to make himself a factor in the race.
The president came out firmly on the side of Luther Strange, appearing with the acting Senator at rallies in Alabama and publicly endorsing him in speeches. President Trump claimed that ever since he came out for Luther Strange, the acting senator has been up in the polls.
Trump’s support for strange marked a notable detraction for the president, who is still lumped in with the GOP’s populist wing even after assuming the highest political office in the country. His endorsement for Strange also put him on the same side as the unpopular McConnell, who is often a target of conservative derision.
With Moore heading to the general election in Alabama’s Senate race, his impending victory is all but assured. Alabama is a stronghold for conservatives. It is a linchpin, and for decades, strong Republicans like Jeff Sessions have led legislative coalitions in many conservative initiatives.
There is literally no chance for any Democrat to take the US Senate seat from Alabama, but this often puts an even greater burden on conservatives. The Republican Party must not only find a conservative to fill the seat – that part is easy – but they must find the one with the clout and the guts to bolster conservative morale at the federal legislative level.
Assuming Moore becomes the permanent replacement for Jeff Sessions, we can expect more of a traditionalist push from Alabama. CNN has likened the grassroots favorite to Texas Senator Ted Cruz, going as far to point out that the likely new lawmaker has an even harsher stance on Islamic Sharia law.
When you look at Moore’s most prominent supporters, it almost serves as a refresher course for the 2016 presidential election. Former Trump strategist Steve Bannon, who has returned to running the popular right-wing news site Breitbart, strongly backed the conservative candidate ahead of the runoff election.
Bannon had some choice words for Mitch McConnell and his backing for acting Senator Luther Strange.
“Mitch McConnell and this permanent political class is the most corrupt and incompetent group of individuals in this country,” he said in Alabama. “They think you’re a pack of morons. They think you’re nothing but rubes. They have no interest at all in what you have to say, what you have to think or what you want to do.”
Bannon then took aim at the rest of the Republican Party’s political leadership in Washington.
“Mitch McConnell … Karl Rove, all the instruments that tried to destroy Roy Moore and his family: Your day of reckoning is coming,” he said.
Ultimately, these election results call into question Trump’s waning connection to his populist base. Alabama’s runoff vote comes after the president made a controversial pivot to the center when he announced he would be working with Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer in crafting a solution for Barack Obama’s Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals, better known as DACA. Trump campaigned hard against the program throughout his White House bid last year.
Following the election, Moore will go on to face Democratic nominee Doug Jones.
~ Conservative Zone