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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 15, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 50
Surge in African-American voters sinks Roy Moore
Section One
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Surge in African-American voters sinks Roy Moore

Steve Bannon and Donald Trump go down with the ship

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The 2017 Alabama Senate race was Roy Moore's to lose. And he did.

On December 12, for the first time since Howell Heflin was reelected in 1990, Alabama voters elected a Democratic US senator - Doug Jones - in a special election to fill the seat of former senator and current attorney general, Jeff Sessions.

Even as Republican Roy Moore - down by more than 20,000 votes in Tuesday's special election - refused to concede the race, members of the GOP began pointing fingers at one another for his defeat after also being steamrolled in Virginia elections last month.

The election will reduce the Republican majority in the Senate to 51-49.

However, Luther Strange, the Republican appointed to replace Sessions as an interim senator in February, is likely to remain in the seat until early January.

That means Republicans will still have time to pass their tax-cut bill and vote on any year-end budgetary resolutions, but after that, the window for legislative success narrows considerably.

After Jones takes his seat, the Republicans can only afford to lose one vote. That would produce a 50-50 split, in which case Vice President Mike Pence would be able to cast the deciding vote. If the GOP leadership allows two senators to slip away, their legislation would fail.

It was a stunning defeat for Republicans and for Moore himself, who has been a fixture of Alabama politics for decades and has emerged as a celebrity among the national ultra-right.

In addition to Moore's anti-LGBT bigotry and his long history as a neo-Confederate - he actually looked back fondly on slavery in one of his stump speeches - Moore's campaign was dogged by charges that he'd molested a 14-year-old girl and stalked dozens of other teenagers.

In the end, a surge in African-American voters plus significant defections among white, middle-class suburban voters did him in.

Jones told his supporters in a victory speech that the 'entire race has been about dignity and respect.'

'This campaign has been about the rule of law. This campaign has been about common courtesy and decency and making sure everyone in this state, regardless of which zip code you live in, is going to get a fair shake in life,' he said as the crowd erupted in cheers.

America's biggest losers
Besides Moore, the other big losers in the Alabama election were Steve Bannon and Donald Trump.

Bannon, who in October vowed a 'season of war' against the GOP establishment, went all out to elect Moore and failed spectacularly.

His pitch to Alabama Republicans in the senatorial primary was that candidates should be culture-wars true believers - not moderates - who would approach politics with the zeal of Crusaders.

The Republican establishment, however, simply wanted candidates that would win, something Moore and Bannon failed to do.

'Look, you know, the goal here is to win elections in November,' McConnell explained.

'Back in 2010 and 2012, we nominated several candidates - Christine O'Donnell, Sharron Angle, Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock. They're not in the Senate. And the reason for that was that they were not able to appeal to a broader electorate in the general election.'

'My goal as the leader of the Republican Party in the Senate is to keep us in the majority,' he added. 'The way you do that is not complicated. You have to have nominated people who can actually win, because winners make policy and losers go home.'

Bannon is now in the camp of 'losers,' and mainstream Republican leaders are already calling on him to get lost.

'After Alabama disaster GOP must do right thing and DUMP Steve Bannon,' Rep. Peter King (R-NY) wrote on Twitter. 'If we are to Make America Great Again for all Americans, Bannon must go!'

Donald Trump was also a loser. He has now been exposed as an empty vessel who can be manipulated by cleverer advisors.

Trump's initial inclination in the GOP primary was to support Moore, whose incendiary right-wing rhetoric echoed his own. But Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell talked him into backing incumbent Luther Strange.

When Moore buried Strange in the GOP primary, Trump initially stuck with McConnell and kept his distance from the Moore campaign. Then Bannon talked Trump into endorsing Moore. Now Trump has his brand on not one but two Alabama losers - both Luther Strange and Roy Moore - and nothing to show for it but a fractured political party.

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Surge in African-American voters sinks Roy Moore
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