Roy Moore’s crushing win for Alabama’s Senate runoff deals a massive blow to President Donald Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and the Republican Party’s establishment. Moore trounced incumbent Sen. Luther Strange 54.8 percent to 45.2 percent, according to The New York Times.
But, you may wonder, Moore’s a Republican, so what do the GOP’s leaders have to worry about? For starters, Vox reports the man aiming to fill U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ former seat would be the GOP’s most extreme senator if he wins. “Moore believes in the supremacy of God’s law over man’s,” Vox notes, “and thinks, among other things, that Sharia law has already been implemented in some U.S. cities and that the Constitution forbids Muslims from serving in Congress. ”
And make no mistake: Since Alabama’s among the reddest of red states, he’ll likely fend off his Democratic challenger, Doug Jones, in December’s special election.
Roy Moore scares the bejeezus out of GOP stalwarts like Mitch McConnell. For starters, he takes God and guns to a whole new level. On top of that, he’s got Donald Trump’s much-reviled former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, running his campaign. The 70-year-old former judge was ousted from Alabama’s state supreme court twice: In 2003, because he refused to remove a statue of the Ten Commandments from the courthouse, and in 2016 for urging state probate judges to ignore the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage.
“If you’re McConnell, you’re just peeing your pants over the prospect of a Moore win,” a former aide to former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told Vox. “It’d be like adding a mini thermonuclear weapon in the Republican caucus — with very dangerous consequences for those trying to reach compromise.”
The Republican Party isn’t getting much done even though they control the White House and both houses of Congress. The last thing they need is another flamboyant hardliner to join Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in gumming up the works. Among Roy Moore’s more colorful exploits: On Monday, he brandished a gun during a rally to refute campaign ads claiming he’s not pro-gun enough, according to The Hill. Those ads “were completely false,” he fumed. “I believe in the Second Amendment.”
Roy Moore’s win could make things harder for Republican Party leaders.
The top brass in the Republican Party seemed so desperate to block Roy Moore and keep Sen. Luther Strange in office, they spent over $10 million on the race. They even deployed Donald Trump to campaign for him at a rally on Saturday. But despite the president’s popularity in the Yellowhammer State, his support didn’t help. Part of the problem is that Moore’s trounced rival had one major issue from the get-go. He was appointed to Jeff Sessions’ open seat by Alabama’s disgraced former Governor Robert Bentley, who resigned in April amid a lurid sex scandal.
As reported by Rachel Maddow, the 72-year-old “Love Gov.” was accused of abusing state resources to conduct (and later to cover up), a steamy affair with his much-younger former adviser Rebekah Mason. Even worse, his wife found out because Robert Bentley forgot to block his iPhone from backing data up to her iPad on the Cloud. Among the salacious phone conversations and emoji-laden text messages exchanged was the cringe-worthy “bless our hearts and other parts.” No wonder voters weren’t so excited about Robert Bentley’s protege.
Even before Roy Moore’s victory, Donald Trump felt uneasy about backing Luther Strange. How do we know? Because on Saturday, he blurted out his misgivings to a stadium full of 7,500 people in Huntsville, Ala., according to the New York Times.
“If Luther doesn’t win, they’re not going to say we picked up 25 points in a very short period of time, they’re going say, ‘Donald Trump, the president of the United States, was unable to pull his candidate across the line.'”
He also damned Luther Strange with faint praise for voting for his agenda in the Senate and not asking much in return. He then said he believed Strange would be a more reliable ally in Washington, D.C. than Roy Moore. But — as the president likely knows all too well — the GOP’s base has a hankering for unfiltered populists like himself. As Donald Trump said, if he can’t get his followers to back the candidates he supports, that puts him in a weak position.
Moore’s win also puts Steve Bannon — often a liability for Donald Trump and the Republican Party — in the spotlight again. As Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.) told The New York Times on Saturday, “If Roy Moore wins, [Steve] Bannon and all the other of those people will pop out of the woodwork everywhere.” As editor of Breitbart, he helped breathe life into the newly-rebranded white nationalist movement he refers to as the “Alt-Right.” Steve Bannon still supports the president — or at least claims he does — but that could change at any time, especially if Trump sides with the GOP establishment too often.
There’s also the concern that — even in a staunchly conservative state like Alabama — some may think Roy Moore’s too extreme and vote for the Democratic candidate, Doug Jones instead. That’s unlikely, but some Democrats feel heartened by this possibility. “We want Roy Moore to win that primary,” Rep. Patricia Todd (D-Ala.) declared. “He gives us a better shot in the general election.”
Here’s The Rachel Maddow Show‘s interesting take on Moore’s victory over Luther Strange in Alabama’s GOP runoff for Senate.
[Featured Image by Brynn Anderson/AP]