Former state Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore’s defeat of appointed U.S. Sen. Luther Strange in the Republican run-off provides Democrats with a small opening in the December 13 general election. Alabama is a deep red state, but Moore is a very controversial nominee who possesses a tendency to make very provocative statements (e.g., that the 9/11 terrorist attacks might have happened “…because we have distanced ourselves from God.”). Most of Moore’s controversial stances weren’t aired during the GOP primary, but they will provide Democrats with plenty of fodder in the general election. What Moore has going in his favor is the state’s solid red hue and a devoted base of social conservatives and Trump Republicans who supported him over his Trump-endorsed opponent in the run-off. And, despite Moore’s skewering of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell during the primary and run-off, national Republicans are committed helping him hold the seat in December.
The Democratic nominee is Doug Jones, a former U.S. Attorney who gained some notoriety for his successful prosecution of two members of the Ku Klux Klan for their role in the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church that killed four young African-American girls. Republicans argue that it will be easy to tie Jones to Democratic lightning rods like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton, but it may be more challenging than they think. Jones, 63, is a life-long Alabaman with a solid resume who will be harder for Republicans to define than, say, Democrat Jonathan Ossoff was the in this year’s special election in Georgia’s 6th congressional district.
This is not to suggest that Democrats don’t have an uphill battle here, only that Moore presents them with a small opportunity that wouldn’t have existed had Strange won the run-off. That said, special elections are odd ducks that can produce unexpected results. A case in point: no one thought the GOP had any shot at winning the 2010 special Senate election in solidly blue Massachusetts to succeed the late U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy, yet Republican Scott Brown won with 52 percent. The race moves to the Likely Republican column because it is worth watching as it develops.
Image: AP Photo/Brynn Anderson