Watch Out Establishment: Alabama Upset is a Warning to GOP Leaders
Republican establishment politicians are shaking in their boots after Alabama voters handed them a stunning electoral loss in a Senate primary race that attracted national attention. Challenger Roy Moore, the darling of the grassroots conservative movement, steamrolled over handpicked incumbent Luther Strange to win the Republican Party nomination. Despite being opposed by Mitch McConnell, an enormous pro-establishment super PAC, and the President of the United States himself, Moore rode to victory on a groundswell of support from popular figures like Steve Bannon and Sarah Palin – to take nothing away from his own hard-earned reputation for smash-and-burn Christian conservative politics.
And experts believe that Moore’s unlikely but decisive victory – almost certainly to be followed by another victory in December against his Democrat opponent – will send shockwaves through Washington, D.C.
From the Washington Post:
The GOP primary victory by conservative firebrand Roy Moore over Sen. Luther Strange could produce a stampede of Republican retirements in the coming months and an energized swarm of challengers.
It marked yet another humiliation for the Washington-based Republican establishment, particularly Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), whose allies pumped millions of dollars into the race to prop up Strange and reassure his colleagues that they could survive the Trump era.
Moore’s win, however, also demonstrates the real political limitations of Trump, who endorsed “Big Luther” at McConnell’s urging and staged a rally for Strange in Huntsville, Ala., just days before the primary. The outcome is likely to further fray Trump’s ties to Republicans in Congress, many of whom now fear that even his endorsement cannot protect them from voter fury.
Trump himself appeared almost embarrassed by his own endorsement of Strange. In the days before the election, he assured Alabama voters that he would support Moore with a full-throated endorsement going into the general election even if his guy didn’t win. And in the hours after Moore dispatched with Strange, Trump began deleting some of his recent tweets expressing support for the incumbent. We don’t know what kind of bad advice Trump got or who he got it from, but it’s clear that he was right on Friday in Huntsville when he admitted to the crowd: “I might have made a mistake.”
If there was any remaining myth about the imperviousness of incumbent Republicans backed by the establishment, though, Tuesday’s results put an end to it. The people are taking back the GOP – a movement that started with the Tea Party, continued through Trump’s stunning victory last November, and is still growing steam today. The swamp is going to be drained one way or the other. Same old, same old just ain’t gonna cut it anymore.