The circus surrounding Roy Moore
The furor surrounding Roy Moore, the GOP Senate nominee running for the Alabama seat once held by now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has taken a number of twists and turns in recent days. The allegations against Moore, first published in the Washington Post, have spawned additional sexual misconduct charges against the former state supreme court chief justice.
The result? Senate Republicans are abandoning Moore in droves, calling for him to step aside. Meanwhile, Moore's supporters, including many within Alabama's political circles, are intent on sticking with him. What to do about Moore?
That decision -- for now -- rests with him. If he stays in the race, he is in for a real fight -- against his opponent, a national story line, and the national GOP. Polling on the race between Moore and Democrat Doug Jones is mixed, with Moore holding a narrow lead in the RealClear Politics polling average. Another poll, of registered Alabama voters, showed the majority favoring Moore's withdrawal from the race.
To call this contest bizarre is an understatement. It's a royal mess.
Our friend Quin Hillyer, a long-time Alabama journalist and conservative commentator, looked into how we got here. Among those he blames for getting this disaster rolling: Sen Mitch McConnell, defeated place-holder Sen. Luther Strange, current Gov. Kay Ivey, Rep. Mo Brooks, and others. His conclusion:
It is time for a hard and fast new rule: National party committees and so-called “Leadership PACs,” and their affiliates, should avoid all direct financial involvement in party primaries. Sure, they can and ought to try to recruit good candidates, but their recruiting pitch should be this: “We can help line you up with good strategists and workers and policy briefings, and we will commit to raising X amount of money for you if you emerge as the nominee. But aside from that, winning the nomination is up to you; we are holding our money and our clout for use against Democrats in the general election, not to trash fellow Republicans in a primary.”
Mitch McConnell, Luther Strange and company utterly screwed up this whole election. They should hang their heads in shame.
We should also note that Hillyer suggests that with the bad news piling up against Moore, he believes the GOP should seek a replacement, and offers state party chair Terry Lathan as the best option.
Moore may be able to resist the current tide against him and stay in the race. He stands a fair chance of winning at this point, too. But this circus could have been avoided in the primary. It wasn't, and there is plenty of blame to go around for that.
Where do events take us from here? There's no way to know, in part because we never expected to end up where we are now, mired in a sensational, and downright repulsive, news cycle. For Alabama voters, it will likely get even worse before election day. The ultimate power to decide is in their hands. We hope they exercise that power wisely.