The election of Democrat Doug Jones in the Alabama special
U.S. senate election to replace Jeff Sessions (who retired to
become attorney general in the Trump administration) was
won and lost by both political parties.
First of all, it was a victory for the Democrats in one of the
most conservative states, and in a race, under normal
circumstances, they could not win. They pick up a senate
seat, and now Republicans control the senate by only 51-49.
But Democrats did not think they were going to win, and
made a political bet that they could use GOP nominee Roy
Moore, once elected, as a foil to embarrass the conservative
party --- having forced a senator of their own, Al Franken, to
resign following scandal allegations (Roy Moore also faced
allegations). Their ultimate target, of course, is President
Trump, but that is likely to fail, as have all their other
numerous attempts to undo the 2016 election.
Enough conservative voters, in addition to Democratic voters,
had the good sense to reject Mr. Moore, twice ousted from the
state supreme court, and leaving scandal allegations aside, was
so controversial and off-the-wall that it is amazing he went as
far as he did.
President Trump did gamely support Moore at the end, but in
the primary he had rightfully supported Moore’s opponent.
Blaming him for Roy Moore just won't wash.
There were losers in the Alabama election. Mr. Moore was the
biggest loser, but so was his major political sponsor, Steve
Bannon. Mr,, Bannon had been on a kamikaze crusade to
“cleanse” the Republican party of part of it base, and he failed
--- not only hurting his own party, but in making himself a toxic
figure in the 2018 campaign ahead. He won’t likely go away
quietly, but his political plot has been exposed as the "bust" it is.
Republicans have done this before. They have nominated various
“extreme” candidates for U.S. senate races (Nevada, Missouri,
Indiana, Colorado, Delaware, etc.) they were likely to win
in recent cycles --- and they lost. Frankly, they deserved to lose
those races, and they deserved to lose Alabama. If they don’t
finally learn the political lesson, they will lose again.
But sensible, and many very conservative, voters in Alabama
decided they deserved better. In rejecting Mr. Moore, they also
took away a Democratic partisan argument against the
Republicans. Forcing Al Franken to resign might have been a
Democratic Party strategy too clever by half.
As others have pointed out, you have to work very hard to be
removed from a state supreme court twice, and then to lose
a virtually certain U.S. senate election. Roy Moore managed
to do all of that, and now it is time for him to ride that horse
of his off into an Alabama sunset.
Senator-elect Jones is presumably an instant lame-duck. A
majority of Alabama voters do not share most of his political
views. If he is to have even a remote chance to win re-election
in 2020, he will have to become the most conservative
Democrat in the senate. If he does not, he will become very
quickly one of the most unpopular guys in the state. He won
the election, but he might not enjoy the aftermath.
It was a most curious race in which both sides won, and both
sides lost. But if the Republicans don’t finally get the message
that voters deserve quality candidates, then one side will have
truly won, and the other will have truly lost.
Copyright (c) 2017 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.