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In most cases, the results of a primary runoff election for a Senate seat isn’t really national news. In Alabama, the battle between Roy Moore and Luther Strange is the very distinct exception. It will determine the direction of the GOP and the path forward for the Federalist Party.
Daniel Horowitz at Conservative Review beat me to this story by a week:
It’s not an exaggeration to suggest that the Alabama Senate primary is the most important Senate election of our generation. That is because this is not just about filling one conservative Senate seat; this is about the future of the Republican Party and perhaps the opening shot that will create momentum for a new political party in America — one that will challenge the uniparty of Republicrats and Democans.
What makes this race so interesting is that the players on both sides are big. President Trump and Senate Majority Leader McConnell have thrown their weight behind Luther Strange, the semi-incumbent (he was appointed by the governor when Jeff Sessions left for the Justice Department). Roy Moore has the backing of many of Trump’s allies including Ben Carson, Sarah Palin, and Steve Bannon.
Strange is the ultimate Establishment swamp creature. Moore is the antithesis of the Establishment.
Strange raised much more money and has the backing of major super PACs. Moore’s campaign has been as grassroots as it gets.
If Moore pulls off the win, it will change the way the GOP (and possibly the Democrats) view race dynamics. On paper, this should be a slam dunk for Strange. He has the support of two of the three most powerful men in the party and has the money to back him up. He’s sort of an incumbent. He’s the moderate with views that align with the centrist direction the GOP has been heading for a long time.
By beating the odds, Moore’s victory will send a few messages. First, it’s a clear indicator that the anti-Establishment sentiment is alive and well even as the President himself embraces the swamp. Second, it tells the GOP they can’t buy elections as easily as they have in the past. Lastly, it will call into question the ability of the President to deliver wins for the GOP in the midterm elections.
On that last point, it’s important to note that the President started hedging his bets last Friday. In an awkward campaign rally for Strange, Trump said he may have made a mistake by backing him. The White House will try to say that Trump’s support for Strange was lukewarm. It wasn’t, at least not before Friday. He’s been a very vocal supporter of Strange since before the original primary and has not wavered until last Friday when it appeared his endorsement wasn’t going to yield a victory. Remember that when you hear them say the President has always supported both men. He hasn’t. He put his full weight behind Strange and polls showed that it wasn’t working. A Moore victory will have the best White House spindoctors working overtime to make us believe the President wasn’t on the losing side.
If Roy Moore wins tomorrow, the President will claim he wasn't really behind Luther Strange. He's been all-in for Strange for a while.
— JD Rucker (@JDRucker) September 25, 2017
This race is a win-win for the Federalist Party. If Moore wins, it will show that big money and Establishment power can be overcome by good ol’ grassroots efforts and proper messaging. If he loses, it will show the GOP is irreparably busted. Either way, this race sets the stage for big things ahead for the party.
America will (hopefully) be keeping a close eye on this runoff. It’s the quintessential Establishment vs. anti-Establishment race with big names pushing both sides. How the GOP moves forward with their midterm campaigns will be determined by the results.
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