Roy Moore Leads GOP Field To Challenge Doug Jones In 2020

Roy Moore has not said that he's running for Senate again in Alabama, but he's already threatening to up-end the race for the GOP nomination.

A new poll of the still-evolving race to find a Republican challenger for Alabama’s Democratic Senator Doug Jones finds that former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who Jones defeated in Special Election in 2017, is leading the field:

Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore leads the field of potential Republicans vying for the chance to challenge Sen. Doug Jones (D), a year and a half after Moore lost what was supposed to be an easy election in a deep-red state.

A new poll shows Moore leading a still-evolving field of Alabama Republicans competing for the nomination. He is the top choice of 27 percent of Alabama Republican voters, according to the Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy Inc. survey.

The state’s three Republican members of Congress finish well behind Moore: Rep. Mo Brooks would take 18 percent, Rep. Bradley Byrne clocks in at 13 percent and Rep. Gary Palmer would take 11 percent.

State Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh would take 4 percent, and businessman Tim Jones finishes with just 2 percent of the vote.
So far, Byrne is the only Republican candidate among those tested to have formally entered the race. Tommy Tuberville, the former Auburn University football coach, and state Auditor Jim Zeigler have also said they will run, though they were not tested in the survey.


Moore remains a deeply polarizing figure, even among conservative voters in the state. A third of Alabama Republicans, 34 percent, say they have a favorable impression of Moore, while 29 percent see him unfavorably.

No other Republican tested has unfavorable ratings higher than 8 percentage points. About half of all Alabama Republicans do not recognize Byrne and Palmer, and about a quarter of state Republicans say they don’t know Brooks.

Just 4 percent of Alabama Republicans do not have an impression of Moore, likely indicating that Moore has a ceiling of support that is lower than other candidates.

Back in March, it was reported that Moore had not ruled out a second run at the Senate seat he lost nearly two years ago. and it was later reported that Moore himself said that he was “seriously considering” running for the seat again notwithstanding the fact that he would be 73 years old by the time the election was in full swing and would turn 74 shortly after taking office should he somehow manage to win the election. The fact that he would once again face the same allegations of sexual assault and misconduct also doesn’t seem to deter him or his apparently still loyal cadre of Republican supporters.

As I’ve said before, any other Republican would have likely defeated Jones rather easily. This is apparent based on the fact that, won the election easily, something that seems rather apparent that notwithstanding the charges against him immediately prior to the election, Moore still managed to win 48% of the vote. Indeed, Moore probably would have been elected to the Senate if the sexual assault allegations had not been made public before the election notwithstanding the fact that he had entered the race with a controversial history as Alabama’s Chief Justice, including two instances where he was removed from the bench due to his refusal to comply with the directives of a Federal District Court related to the placement of a Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the State Supreme Court and his refusal to recognize the legitimacy of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges overturning remaining state laws against same-sex marriage.

Nonetheless,  Jones’s win was significant given the fact that he was the first Democrat elected to the Senate since Howell Heflin was re-elected in 1990 and Richard Shelby, who later changed parties from Democratic to Republican, was re-elected in 1992. The misconduct charges against Moore were, obviously, the main reason that Jones managed to win the election. Those charges led nearly all of the Republicans in Alabama and nationwide to withdraw their endorsements of Moore’s candidacy and national Republican organizations to withdraw from the state and withhold aid from Moore’s campaign. 

As noted, there is already a Republican in the race to challenge Jones in 2020, but Alabama Republicans don’t appear to be entirely enthusiastic about the candidate. In mid-February, Congressman Bradley Byrne announced his candidacy for the nomination and it’s believed that he will be a strong contender to win the nomination. With the prospect of Moore once again getting into the race, though, some Alabama Republicans appear to be looking for a more Trump-friendly Republican, fearing that Byrne’s record won’t be considered sufficiently conservative by a Republican base that is very pro-Trump. One candidate apparently being looked at in that regard is Congressman Mo Brooks. Brooks is a member of the House Freedom Caucus who ran for this seat in 2017 only to come in third place behind Moore and then-Senator Luther Strange, who had been appointed to fill the seat after Sessions became Attorney General. While Strange is apparently not considering making a bid for the Republican nomination, Brooks is reportedly considering getting into the race but is telling people in private that he would only get into the race if he could get the President’s endorsement or a pledge of neutrality in the primary. While an endorsement by the President in a very pro-Trump state, one the President won by more than 30 points over Hillary Clinton. would seem to be advantageous, it’s worth noting that Trump endorsed Lother Strange in the 2017 Special Election and he ended up losing the runoff election to Moore by nine points. In any case, this poll seems to clearly indicate that, at least initially, Moore will once again be a threat to push the primary race into a runoff election that he could end up winning. If that happens, then Republicans will once again be faced with the prospect of having a credibly accused sexual predator as their Senate candidate, and Doug Jones may very well get the edge he needs to hold on to his seat.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, Congress, US Politics, , ,
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


  1. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Republicans will once again be faced with the prospect of having a credibly accused sexual predator as their Senate candidate

    And as their Presidential Candidate.
    Roy Moore and Donnie…the perfect expressions of today’s GOP.

  2. MarkedMan says:

    Please, please, please!

  3. The GOP primary could devolve into quite a clown show if Moore and Tubberville actually run. The only thing that could make it better would be the if the ousted governor, Robert “the Luv Guv” Bentley also ran (which was rumored at one point).

  4. CSK says:

    What is Moore’s appeal? Is it the business with the Ten Commandments? Is it his objection to same-sex marriage? Apart from being a child molester, the man’s a clown. Look at him in that stupid cowboy get-up waving that little revolver. Who does that impress?

  5. Michael Reynolds says:

    This competition between Alabama, Mississippi and South Carolina for the title of worst state is a real knuckle-biter.

  6. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Don’t forget Louisiana.

  7. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:


    Who does that impress?

    Who would buy one of those stupid Red Hats that are made in China and say Make America Great Again?

  8. CSK says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: Sure. But what’s likable about a creep who trawled malls looking for barely post-pubescent dates? How is that an asset?

  9. SenyorDave says:

    @CSK: But what’s likable about a creep who trawled malls looking for barely post-pubescent dates?

    I really believe it is symptomatic of what Trump has done to the Republican party and so-called conservatives. If Moore wasn’t a politician, I suspect most men in Alabama would consider him a pervert, and would be literally gunning for him. Instead they would gladly elect elect him their Senator because he supports Trump and parrots his racist and xenophobic comments.

    It also shows the depth of the modern Republican party. The Democratic party has people in it I don’t have any use for, and some policy positions that I don’t agree with. But I have no doubt that if there was a person running as a Democrat even one tenth as repulsive as Moore every party leader in sight would condemn that person. The Republicans will run a pedophile for office and support him.

  10. just nutha says:

    @CSK: Don’t be dissin’ the Snub-nose .38! It’s the gun that made Dick Tracy famous!

  11. just nutha says:

    @SenyorDave: I feel compelled to remind people that the stuff we’re watching in the GOP is not because of Trump. Roy Moore’s pervy behavior and ascension to high rank in Alabama’s state justice system predate Trump by several decades. We really need to stop thinking that the GOP will be okay “once Trump is gone.” Trump is simply the high water mark of a sickness infecting the GOP (and as it relates to Moore, the South in general, perhaps) for a long time.

  12. CSK says:

    @just nutha: I know, I know. It’s just that Moore soils everything he touches.

    @just nutha: Perhaps the state motto should be “Pervs R Us.”

  13. Gustopher says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: Mississippi has a theme song to make its case — Phil Och’s “Here’s to the state of Mississippi”

    I will admit that Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” is also a strong contender for terrible state theme.

    What does Louisiana have? “You Are My Sunshine” — a murder ballad that stops early (you know he’s going to kill her, after “But if you leave me / To love another / You’ll regret it all some day”) and then veers oddly into a travel brochure created by the department of tourism.

    Louisiana my Louisiana
    the place where I was borne.
    White fields of cotton
    — green fields clover,
    the best fishing
    and long tall corn;


    Crawfish gumbo and jambalaya
    the biggest shrimp and sugar cane,
    the finest oysters
    and sweet strawberries
    from Toledo Bend to New Orleans;

    It weirdly doesn’t mention any of the swamps that would be a perfect place to hide his sunshine’s body away.

  14. Lynn says:

    @SenyorDave: I really believe it is symptomatic of what Trump has done to the Republican party

    I disagree. The GOP was already there; Trump just made it even more obvious.

  15. EddieInCA says:

    If Moore is, in fact, leading the GOP field after all we know, can we please stop thinking of Trump as an outlier.

    Trump isn’t the problem. The GOP base is the problem. There can br no other extrapolation from this data point.
    Racist? Check
    Xenophobic? Check
    Sexual predator? Check

    Any of these issues should make someone unelectable. But 25% of the population thinks these issues aren’t disqualifying and two of the three are actually a benefit, not a negative, to the GOP base.

  16. An Interested Party says:

    Could Doug Jones actually be so lucky a second time? Claire McCaskill must be so jealous…

  17. James Joyner says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I’ve only watched Alabama politics out of the corner of my eye since moving 17 years ago but haven’t heard of any of the candidates polled other than Moore. I’m seriously hoping Moore is just leading on name recognition at this point. Congressmen tend not to be known outside their districts. And I can’t see many ‘Bama fans voting for Tuberville, who was something of a sore winner.

  18. KM says:

    GOP culture is now troll culture. They revel in every nasty thing an 8chan troll would do but out in public. The GOP took these kinds of terrible souls and embraced them whole-hearted as “real ‘Muricans”. The “own the libz” mentality, the slurs and childish name-calling, the reflexive hate – the internet gave everyone’s inner jerk an anonymous outlet then the party started making it acceptable to do these things in broad daylight.

    To be GOP these days is to proudly be an Asshole-American. Troll culture is their official dogma now. To be visible scum is now a feature, not a bug.