Speed Reads

alabama special election

Today's Alabama GOP Senate primary pits Trump against his biggest allies

Republican voters in Alabama will decide Tuesday whether to nominate Sen. Luther Strange, the incumbent appointed by the state's unpopular former governor and supported by President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), or Roy Moore, the controversial former judge who has consistently led in the polls and is backed by Trump's most prominent supporters. Trump held a rally for Strange in Huntsville last Friday, and Vice President Mike Pence was in Birmingham to boost him on Monday night, while Stephen Bannon headlined a Monday night barn rally for Moore, joined by Brexit leader Nigel Farage and Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson.

McConnell's allied super PAC has spent millions on ads against Moore, a conservative most famous for defying court orders to remove 10 Commandments monuments and accept a Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage — both of which got him removed from the Alabama Supreme Court. Trump has tweeted his support for Strange and phoned in to local radio shows to talk him up as a loyal backer in the Senate.

Bannon has made it his top priority to unseat Strange and boost Moore, hoping to launch an insurgency against the Republican establishment. He was unsparing in his comments Monday night. He called Tuesday a "day of reckoning" for McConnell, his allies, and "the donors" and "corporatists that put up the money" for campaigns. "Mitch McConnell and his permanent political class is the most corrupt, incompetent group of individuals in this country!" he said, insisting, "We did not come here to defy Donald Trump, we came here to praise and honor him."

The winner of Tuesday's primary will face Democrat Doug Jones in deep-red Alabama's December special election.