By Joey Kennedy
Alabama Political Reporter
Could a Democrat win a U.S. Senate race in Alabama?
At least one poll says it could happen, if either former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore or U.S. Sen. Luther Strange, former state attorney general, win the upcoming Republican Special Election primary runoff for Senate, to be held Sept. 26.
That Democrat is former U.S. Attorney Doug Jones. It’s difficult to think of a better candidate Democrats could put forward in this important special election.
Remember, Strange was appointed to the Senate by disgraced former Gov. Robert Bentley. The appointment came under a cloud, as Bentley was supposed to be under investigation by Strange’s office at the time.
Strange gets the appointment, and the investigation goes away, right? Except it didn’t. Bentley had to resign after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor, another in a seemingly long line of Alabama Governors, both Republican and Democratic, who did wrong and paid the price.
So after the August Special U.S. Senate election, Alabama voters – and, more specifically, Alabama Republicans – were left with a terrible choice:
Strange, who it appears would sell his soul for the power of the Senate; and Moore, who appears to have no soul.
That strong divide that has split Republicans in a big way. Moore supporters aren’t likely to support Strange, if Strange gets the nomination, which appears more and more unlikely. Strange supporters aren’t likely to support Moore who, quite frankly, is just unacceptable to most reasonable people.
If those voters choose Jones because their awful candidate lost, we could have a major upset.
Moore is a homophobe. Moore doesn’t respect the law. He’s twice been tossed from the state Supreme Court for defying federal court decrees. Moore has those crazy eyes. Yes, those eyes are crazy. Moore enriched himself from his own nonprofit. Moore believes Russian dictator Vladimir Putin is a good guy.
Then there’s Strange, whose name is, not ironically, so appropriate. This man, who at one time was a reasonable, moderate Republican, turned on a dime – or on a lot of dollars – when it served his personal interests and greed for power. Suddenly, Strange is a Trump Republican. And, really, who wants to be a Trump Republican? Oh, they’re out there, plenty of them, but they’re not Republicans in the traditional sense. They’re Republicans in Name Only, because, in fact, Trump is not a Republican. Trump is whatever he needs to be. Kind of like Strange, right?
Then, Democrats nominate Jones, a well-respected former U.S. Attorney General who prosecuted a couple of former KKK-ers involved in the horrific bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church this month in 1963 that killed those four little girls and injured many others.
There has never been a hint of scandal involving Jones, who is no flaming liberal. He’s an Alabamian who cares about compassion and doing right. He cares about his state, and in doing in Congress what is in Alabamians’ best interests, even if they don’t fully realize what those interests are.
Republicans, disaffected with either a Moore or Strange nomination, could easily find themselves drawn to Jones in the December Special General Election. They can live with Jones. He won’t embarrass them, anyway.
Or so it seems. The polls have Jones in practically a dead heat with either Moore or Strange. But we know about polls. Polls showed that Democrat Hillary Clinton would easily defeat the misogynist, racist, narcissist, xenophobic Donald Trump, and look what we have now.
But there’s a better chance than in a long time for a Democrat to actually win a statewide race in Alabama. That’s a credit to Jones, sure, but it’s also a reflection of how poorly Republicans are selecting their own candidates: A scary demagogue like Moore and a self-serving chameleon like Strange.
Yes, it could happen, and Alabama would be better for it.
Joey Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize winner, writes a column each week for Alabama Political Reporter. Email: [email protected]