by Kyle Morris
Alabama is in the midst of one of the most intense Senate elections in recent years, after three strong Republican candidates closely split the early primary vote. In the first round of voting, former state Supreme Court Judge Roy Moore came out on top with 38.9 percent, followed by current U.S. Senator Luther Strange at 32.8 percent, and U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks at 19.7 percent. Seeing as no candidate reached 50 percent of the total vote, Moore and Strange will compete in a runoff election set for September 26.
Both candidates appeal to the voters of Alabama in different ways.
Moore, a leader who has often been criticized by pundits for bringing his religion into politics, has nevertheless received a tremendous amount of support from Alabamians. Moore is pro-life, opposes federal funding to Planned Parenthood, and strongly supports religious liberty, all stances he has not shied away from during his campaign. His suspension from the state’s Supreme Court for defending Alabama’s traditional marriage law also shows that he will be a definitive rival to the establishment in Washington. Perhaps Moore’s biggest worry heading into September is a lack of support from that very establishment: President Trump, among other national GOP leaders, has endorsed Moore’s opponent Luther Strange, a move which may have helped push Strange into the runoff.
As for Strange, the state’s former attorney general — who was appointed to the seat by former Gov. Robert Bentley after Jeff Sessions’ exit — has been the target of anti-establishment criticism even since picking up the support of President Trump. During the campaign, Strange has emphasized his support for repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act as well as for following through on President Trump’s promises to build a border wall and crack down on illegal immigration. Nevertheless, his chances appear to have weakened dramatically due to his ties to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who many voters feel is responsible for the failure to advance President Trump’s agenda in Congress.
A recent poll of Alabamian voters shows Moore with an early lead of 19 points, at 51-32 percent with 17 percent undecided. The former judge’s increasing lead can be mainly attributed to his winning over those who voted for Brooks and other former candidates in the first round, as supporters of the “also rans” went for Moore in the poll by a wide margin: 51-26 percent. The survey also shows that even after Mitch McConnell and the Senate GOP spent millions to lend support for Strange, the average Alabama voter was 45 percent less likely to vote for him due to this support.
After the many attack ads issued pre-election between the Strange and Brooks campaigns, it is no surprise that Brooks’ supporters seem to be moving to Moore. With Moore holding a healthy early lead, provided conservative voters turn out as they did before, Roy Moore has to be considered the favorite to win the Republican nomination — and in all likelihood become Alabama’s newest U.S. senator.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.0