Roy Moore Is Running For Senate Again

Much to the chagrin of Republicans hoping to win back a Senate seat they never should have lost, Roy Moore is running for Senate again in Alabama.

After being defeated in a bid for the Senate by a surprise victory for Democratic nominee Doug Jones due primarily to a scandal that erupted during the final month of the campaign, former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore announced yesterday that he is running for the Republican nomination to take on Jones again in the 2020 election:

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Roy S. Moore, the polarizing Alabama Republican who lost a Senate campaign in 2017 after being accused of sexual misconduct, said on Thursday that he would seek a rematch in next year’s election.

His decision was an unsurprising act of defiance against many of his party’s national leaders, including President Trump, who recently publicly warned him away from another Senate bid. Republican officials fear that if Mr. Moore were to win the party’s nomination in March, he would jeopardize their prospects of defeating the Democratic incumbent, Senator Doug Jones, and of recapturing a seat they had long controlled with ease.

“The people of Alabama are not only angry, but they’re going to act on that anger,” Mr. Moore, a former chief justice of the State Supreme Court who built a reputation as a champion of the evangelical right, said in Montgomery, the Alabama capital. “The people of Alabama are tired of politicians saying one thing and doing another.”

In a warm ballroom with a piano and a pair of ornate staircases, Mr. Moore detailed his grievances against Republican officials in Washington, predicting that the campaign arm of Senate Republicans would run “a smear campaign” against him. The go-it-alone tone of Mr. Moore’s news conference was familiar, a 2019 edition of his past campaigns.

Speaking to reporters after the announcement, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, said, “We’ll be opposing Roy Moore vigorously.”

Even before Mr. Moore made his announcement, Senator Richard Shelby, Republican of Alabama, openly said he would not vote for him. Instead, Mr. Shelby said he was trying to recruit Jeff Sessions to run for the seat he had held for 20 years before he became Mr. Trump’s first attorney general.

And Mr. Moore’s more liberal opponents vowed to defeat him one way or another.

“Roy Moore? Really?” Mr. Jones’s campaign asked on Twitter on Thursday. “Here we go again.”

Mr. Moore’s new campaign will test his standing among the Republican voters he cultivated — many of them white, evangelical conservatives from the state’s rural counties — as he became one of Alabama’s most divisive political figures of the last 50 years. His efforts to hold public office beyond the judiciary have faltered, sometimes in Republican primaries, and many Republicans have proved allergic to his uncompromising views or, more recently, his reputation as an accused predator.

(…)

While Democrats would be more confident in Mr. Jones’s prospects if Mr. Moore were the nominee, they are not dismissing the former chief justice’s chances in a general election, particularly with the presidency also on the ballot in a conservative state.

“If you think about just the data from the past cycle, he’s a few thousand votes from being a United States senator,” said Mayor Walt Maddox of Tuscaloosa, the Democratic nominee for governor last year.

This announcement, of course, isn’t entirely surprising. Even in the face of the allegations of sexual assault and improper behavior against girls between the ages of 14 and 17 when he was in his thirties, Moore still managed to walk away from the 2017 Special Election with just over 48% of the vote, trailing winner Doug Jones by just about 22,000 votes. Prior to that, he had won the first and second rounds of the Republican primary fairly convincingly notwithstanding the fact that President Trump and other national Republicans had backed Luther Strange, Moore’s opponent in the nomination fight who was also the sitting Senator at the time. Had it not been for the scandal regarding the sexual allegations against him, Moore most likely would have won the election and be a Senator today.

Republicans in Alabama and nationwide seem determined to do what they can to stop Moore’s candidacy.

Early on when it was being reported that Moore was “seriously considering” another Senate run, that process was beginning. President Trump, for example, took to Twitter to argue against a Moore candidacy, as did his son Donald Jr. That didn’t deter Moore at all, who responded to Trump’s call to stay out of the race by largely dismissing them and arguing that the President was being misled by Republican Party insiders opposed to Moore. Around that same time, Moore’s continued strength inside the Alabama Republican Party was emphasized by a poll showing Moore leading the other candidates for the GOP nomination. After this, it was reported that Moore was likely that Moore would enter the race and that he would be a strong candidate if he did.

In addition to the early opposition of the President, other national leaders are lining up to say that they will not only not support Moore but that they intend to campaign against him. Donald Trump Jr. jumped into the race again after Moore’s announcement, saying he is ‘doing a disservice to all conservatives’ by running. Mitch McConnell, meanwhile is vowing to “vigorously oppose” Moore’s bid for the nomination:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) signaled on Thursday that he and his allies will actively work to oppose Roy Moore’s bid for Alabama’s Senate seat after the conservative firebrand announced he was jumping into the race. 

“We’ll be opposing Roy Moore vigorously,” McConnell told reporters after returning to the Capitol after a White House briefing on Iran. 

McConnell’s comments come after he warned, during an interview with the Associated Press shortly before Moore announced his bid, that he would “oppose him in every way.” 

Moore announced on Thursday afternoon that he would launch a bid for Alabama’s Senate seat after previously winning the party’s nomination in 2017, only to lose to now-Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) in a contentious special election. 

His candidacy is a national nightmare for Republicans. They blame him for losing what they view as a safe GOP seat in a deeply red state that President Trump won easily in 2016.

Moore lost the race after facing multiple accusations of pursuing sexual and romantic relationships with teenage girls decades ago when he was in his 30s; he has denied any wrongdoing. 

National outside groups allied with McConnell had previously indicated they were leaving the door open to working to make sure Moore doesn’t win the party’s nomination for a second time.

McConnell’s comments mark the clearest indication that national Republicans intend to try to stop any potential momentum for Moore. 

Jack Pandol, a spokesman for the McConnell-aligned Senate Leadership Fund, said Moore winning the GOP nomination “would be gift wrapping” the Senate seat for Democrats. 

“We believe most Alabama Republicans realize that nominating Roy Moore would be gift wrapping this Senate seat for Chuck Schumer. It remains to be seen whether Moore can escape his baggage without his candidacy collapsing under its own weight,” he added in a statement.

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), who is close with McConnell, said on Thursday that Alabama “can do better” than Moore, who he warned wouldn’t be “good” for the Republican Party.

“I don’t think it would help the president. I don’t think it would help anybody running. He would … take a lot of oxygen out of there,” Shelby said.

Asked if he thought GOP groups should actively campaign against Moore, he added: “I think a lot of them will.”

Moore joins what is already a crowded GOP field, which could play to his advantage in terms of being one of the two candidates who makes it into an expected runoff election that would likely take place in August or September 2020. The preferred candidate of national Republican leaders appears to be Congressman Bradley Byrne, who represents the state’s 1st Congressional District and had served in the state legislature before a handful of unsuccessful bids for statewide office. In 2012, Byrne was elected to Congress. Other candidates include Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, state Representative Arnold Mooney, and Tommy Tuberville, former head football coach at Auburn University. In addition to these candidates, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who held this same Senate seat before resigning when he was confirmed as Attorney General, has not ruled out getting into the race himself, something that would most certainly shake the race up.

The Alabama Senate race is potentially crucial to Republican hopes to hold on to the Senate in 2020. As things stand, there are at least two races in the nation where Republican incumbents are believed to be potentially vulnerable. The first is Cory Gardner’s bid for re-election in Colorado, which went for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and is expected to be a Democratic state in 2020 as well. The second is the Special Election in Arizona to fill the remainder of John McCain’s term, which lasts through the 2022 election. Shortly after the 2018 election and the resignation of Jon Kyl, who had been named to replace McCain after his death with the understanding that he would only serve for a short time, Arizona’s Governor named Martha McSally, who had just narrowly lost to Senator Kyrsten Sinema in the election for the state’s other seat, to hold onto the seat until the 2020 Special Election. It is expected that McSally will face off against Mark Kelly, the retired astronaut and husband of former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and early polling has those two candidates in a tight head-to-head race.

While the GOP could afford to lose both these races and still hold on to control in the Senate, a win in Alabama would go a long way toward alleviating Republican concerns about the upper chambers. Ordinarily, of course, the GOP should have nothing to worry about in Alabama. 2020 is, after all, a Presidential election year and President Trump won the state three years ago by a huge margin that he’s likely to repeat next year. Additionally, as unlikely as it seems, it is possible that Moore could win the GOP nomination yet again, thus saddling every Republican in the nation with the question of whether or not they support a candidate who has been credibly accused by numerous women of sexual assault and harassment. Additionally, Moore’s candidacy would yet again bring national attention to the details behind his removal from the bench on two occasions due to his failure to obey the orders of a Federal District Court Judge. This is the reason why Republicans are likely to do everything they can to stop Roy Moore this time around. Whether or not they will succeed is unclear, but it sure will make the race fun to watch.

FILED UNDER: General
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Awesome.
    If you are no longer welcome at the local mall…go to the Senate.

  2. MarkedMan says:

    Roy Moore, the gift that keeps on giving… to Democrats. Heh.

  3. Kathy says:

    Maybe since the last election, Mr. Moore has developed the hots for Doug Jones.

  4. CSK says:

    Judge Jailbait rides again.

  5. Kylopod says:

    Trump came out against Moore’s candidacy a few weeks ago, which led Moore to respond in kind. I guess this will be yet another test of whether it is possible to win a Republican primary while attacking Trump as part of the “establishment.” It didn’t work out well for that dude in WV.

  6. Gustopher says:

    Is he doing this just to impress 14 year old girls?

  7. I was going to write about this, but it should be noted that Moore was able to win the nomination last time largely because his main rival was tainted by a major scandal linked to the Bentley admin (the governor who had to resign). This time around, especially with Byrne and others to choose from, Moore will have a hard time making the run-off, let alone the nomination.

    Moore has clear supporters in the state, but he isn’t all that popular even in the Republican party–and the state GOP will have every interest is working against him, as the only chance Jones has to win re-election is a Moore candidacy (and even then, in a presidential year, I have a hard time seeing a Dem winning a statewide race).

  8. Paul L. says:

    I do not want to hear Roy Moore is a pedophile instead of a Hebephile/Ephebophile.

    Not when progressives just defended AOC saying concentration camps on the border is not comparing them to Nazi concentration camps like Auschwitz, Dachau and Ohrdruf.

    1
    17
  9. Kylopod says:

    @Paul L.: You uncommonly have made a valid point. People colloquially use the word “pedophilia” to refer to any sexual interest in minors, when the term more properly applies to sexual interest in prepubescent children, as opposed to teens. Similarly, “concentration camp” for most people refers to the extermination camps of the Nazis, even though historically it’s had a broader meaning.

    But really, what point is it you’re trying to make? If it’s that progressives are being slightly inconsistent on the question of how much to rely on colloquial definitions, fine, but it’s a fairly trivial point in this context. Whether you choose to call Moore a pedophile or hebephile or whatever doesn’t change the fact that he’s unfit for the office. In contrast, the fact that the camps along the border qualify as concentration camps by some historical definitions even if they aren’t equivalent to the Nazi death camps is a pretty important revelation. In this case, the pedantic distinction has far greater consequences and is therefore more useful to highlight.

    15
  10. Teve says:

    @Kylopod: I’m willing to stipulate that the guy who lost his judgeship for unconstitutionally promoting christianity and then defying federal orders to comply with the constitution, who said america was better when we had slavery because families were ‘more united’, who think gays should be kicked out of the military and that the Supreme Court “destroyed” marriage, is in fact an ephebophile rather than a pedophile. 😛 😛 😛

  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Please pass the popcorn.

    @Paul L.: STFU you ignorant moron.

    con·cen·tra·tion camp
    /ˌkänsənˈtrāSHən ˈˌkamp/
    noun
    noun: concentration camp; plural noun: concentration camps

    a place where large numbers of people, especially political prisoners or members of persecuted minorities, are deliberately imprisoned in a relatively small area with inadequate facilities,

    sometimes to provide forced labor or to await mass execution.

    Just because every body remembers the time the Nazis did it and conveniently don’t remember all the times the US has done it in the past, doesn’t mean we aren’t doing it now. Read a history book.

    9
    1
  12. Paul L. says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    The DHS is the Schutzstaffel.
    ICE is the SS-Totenkopfverbände (SS-TV) Death’s Head Units. .
    The Border Patrol is the Geheime Staatspolizei (Secret State Police) Gestapo.

    I am glad progressives are pushing the concentration camp narrative to pretend that AOC is not a moron and defend their pro illegal alien and open borders policies.

    10
  13. Gustopher says:

    @Paul L.: Nazis really did hurt the reputation of concentration camps, didn’t they?

    But, those are concentration camps. Just like the camps where we help Japanese Americans in WWII.

    And, if we want to be pedantic, Moore is more accurately referred to as a pederast than a pedophile. A pedophile has an attraction, but a pederast acts on it.

    Epheberast or heberast if you want to get very particular.

  14. Kylopod says:

    @Gustopher: The problem is that “pederast” refers to people who abuse boys. It’s also somewhat of an outdated term.

    I just say “teen sexual assaulter,” and leave it at that.

  15. Gustopher says:

    @Kylopod: huh, I never knew it was gendered! Now I want to know why, but don’t really want to do a whole lot of searches for pedophiles and pederasts on my own devices. I’m meeting friends in a bit, perhaps one of them will leave their phone unlocked.

    (I was expecting a pedantic response on the degree to which Moore succeeded in his sexual predation of underage girls…)

    Your preferred term, teen sexual assaulter, makes it would like Moore was a teenager, which all too often gets excused with “boys will be boys” so long as it doesn’t get to rape (and, even then sometimes). And it doesn’t really get the almost-legal-definition-Of-stalking aspect of his actions.

    How old are congressional pages?

  16. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Paul L.: Now wait. You just admitted that DHS, ICE, and the Border Patrol are reminiscent/equivalents of the Nazis but want to criticize AOC for observing the same thing? Jealous much?

  17. The Grammar Police says:

    @Kylopod: That should be “sexual assaulter of teens.” A “teen sexual assaulter” can be a teenager. It’s the same mistake as when we say “English teacher” instead of “teacher of English.” I am one, but not the other in the second case. I’ll let you sort out which.

  18. Kylopod says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I took Paul’s statements on DHS, etc. as sarcasm. Which is pretty much all he’s capable of.

  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Paul L.: I rest my case. You purposely ignored everything I said so you can set your strawmen on fire. You want to make the argument about Nazis because they are your fixation. I am talking about what the US is doing, here, now, in our name, and you are desperate to avoid that conversation because way deep down you know it is morally repugnant and your support of it makes you… Hmmm… there’s a word that perfectly encapsulates you and your brethren, it’s right on the tip of my tongue…

    N…. N…. N…. Naw, that’s not it, your just a garden variety coward, pants wetting scared of darkly complected men, women, and children coming to take away your precious white privilege, hoping against hope that fascism will save your ass because you have neither the balls, the will, nor the intelligence to do it on your own.

  20. wr says:

    @Paul L.: Shorter Paul L: It’s not rape if a Republican does it.

  21. MarkedMan says:

    “Concentration Camp” was first used in 1897. (For your average Republican it’s probably necessary to point out this was 40 years before the Nazis were rounding people up.) And FWIW, my recollection is that the Nazi concentration camps are usually either referred to as “Nazi Death Camps” or, for those holding captured soldiers, “POW camps”.