Moore wins in Alabama, in a rebuke to establishment
Firebrand former judge Roy Moore cruised to victory over appointed Sen. Luther Strange in Alabama’s Republican primary runoff for the U.S. Senate this week, delivering a blow to GOP leaders in their brewing war with anti-establishment conservatives. A bombastic religious conservative who believes that homosexuality should be illegal, Moore, 70, was twice removed as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court for defying federal orders—arguing that “God’s law” supersedes the law of man. During his campaign, Moore said that “abortion, sodomy, sexual perversion sweep our land” and claimed that some Illinois communities were living under sharia law. He defeated Strange, who was backed by both President Trump and GOP Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, by 9 points—despite the McConnell-allied Senate Leadership Fund pouring $9 million into the race. “We have to return the knowledge of God and the Constitution of the United States to the U.S. Congress,” Moore said in his victory speech. The former judge will face off against Democratic candidate Doug Jones, a former U.S. attorney, in the Dec. 12 special election.
Trump had traveled to Huntsville, Ala., ahead of the runoff to endorse Strange—though at one point in his campaign rally, Trump said he “might have made a mistake” in backing the incumbent senator. The morning after Strange’s defeat, Trump deleted three tweets expressing his support for the candidate and congratulated Moore. “Sounds like a really great guy who ran a fantastic race,” Trump tweeted.
What the columnists said
Democrats couldn’t ask for a better opponent than Moore, said Paul Waldman in TheWeek.com. The fire-and-brimstone theocrat gained notoriety for refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state supreme court, and once suggested the 9/11 attacks were an act of God’s retribution. He believes that homosexuality is—in his own words—“an act so heinous that it defies one’s ability to describe it.” In short, Moore “is a religious extremist of the highest order”—and he will embarrass Republicans with his many “hateful ideas.”
As a proud conservative and Alabamian, my “shoulders slumped” when I saw the result, said Ed Rogers in The Washington Post. Moore’s triumph will fuel other wackos, backed by Breitbart News provocateur Steve Bannon, to run in GOP primaries, making it easier for Democrats to win in the 2018 midterms. McConnell and company brought this “war” on themselves, said the Washington Examiner in an editorial. What else did they expect after consistently failing to deliver on promises, such as repealing Obamacare?
Trump’s movement “now threatens to eclipse him,” said Suzanne Monyak in NewRepublic.com. The president half-heartedly backed Strange, but Moore was the true Trumpist candidate—a nativist, populist outsider who railed against political correctness and the D.C. “swamp.” And he won, in the face of a multimillion-dollar Republican campaign that included the president himself. “The warning signs for the GOP are all there: No one can bottle up the forces that Trump has unleashed, not even Trump himself.”