Inside the Statehouse
By Steve Flowers
Judge Roy Moore and his wife, Kayla, made their traditional horseback ride to their voting place in Gallant in Etowah County, last Tuesday and when all the votes were counted that night, they won a resounding victory. Moore’s capture of the GOP Senate nomination was impressive. A 55-45 margin is not a total trouncing, but is considered a landslide.
Despite being outspent by the Washington establishment 15-to-1, Moore prevailed. His solid bloc of conservative evangelical voters stood strong against an avalanche of negative ads.
When the Washington Beltway Big Money interests pony up, they bring with them the best and meanest pollsters and media consultants in the country. They congruently polled and told Luther Strange to tie himself inextricably to Donald Trump. Luther stuck to the script perfectly. Trump even came to Alabama to endorse Big Luther. It was to no avail.
When you are able to have $15 million spent for you and the president and vice president fly in to endorse you, you can look in the mirror the next day and honestly say; “I did all that I could do to derail the 10 Commandments Judge. Four months from now Mitch McConnell and crowd will be saying, “Here comes the Judge.”
The GOP Senate runoff was finalized last Tuesday, but it was probably decided last year and the dye was more than likely cast in February and April when the race officially began.
When disgraced and disregarded governor, Robert Bentley, gave Attorney General Luther Strange the Senate seat appointment in February it was the kiss of death. Folks in Alabama have never liked someone getting appointed to an office. When George Wallace was in his heyday of popularity, he would appoint someone to a political office, and they would invariably lose every time. Alabamians tend to resent this means of arrival into a political post. They especially look with a disparaging eye when they get selected by a governor who they are investigating for corruption while you are the state’s chief prosecutor. It appears clandestine and casts a cloud of conspiracy over the deal. Perception is reality in politics.
Big Luther was likely laid to rest in April when newly minted governor, Kay Ivey, changed Bentley’s decision to delay the Special Election to fill the remaining time of Jeff Sessions term from next year’s 2018 election to a Special Election this year.
Luther took the appointment with the assumption that he would have the luxury of nestling into the seat for almost two years and running as a veteran incumbent with two years under his belt and every race on the ballot the same day; two years for people to forget the appointment, plus 15 million dollars of Washington money is a lot safer bet than seeking election in a Special Election less than six months after the Bentley appointment against religious folk hero Roy Moore.
Judge Moore was poised to win whatever he sought in his next pursuit of office. When the state judicial inquiry commission removed him from the Bench for espousing his judicial opinion against gay marriage, it made him a martyr among conservative Alabamians. In the “Heart of Dixie” that was a very good hand to be dealt.
It made folks mad when the federal courts took him out of office for displaying the Ten Commandments. However, the wrath that his removal from the bench last year evoked was enormous. Especially, after he had been elected by the same voters because they liked his socially conservative stances.
Private early polling of the 2018 Governor’s race revealed that Moore was the frontrunner in that race. That is probably why Kay Ivey called for a Special Election as one of her first acts as Governor. She knew that Moore would be lured into the Senate seat, which better suits him.
There is a lot of talk and speculation that the Democratic nominee, Doug Jones, can make a race of it when the General Election is held on December 12. Jones is a good candidate. However, he is a true national liberal Democrat who proudly espouses the liberal agenda of the Democrats.
It is still very doubtful that a Democrat can win a statewide race in Alabama, especially for the U.S. Senate. However, it will be fun to watch.
See you next week.
Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.