Moore's win a crushing blow to McConnell
There's no way to spin, or wiggle out of this one: Roy Moore's victory over Sen. Luther Strange in the Alabama run-off election for the GOP's Senate nomination was a crushing defeat for the Republican establishment, and Sen. Mitch McConnell in particular. Our friend, and Mobile, Alabama resident, Quin Hillyer writes:
Moore won by 9.2 percentage points, a virtual landslide, even though Strange had been backed by $9 million from a McConnell-affiliated political action committee, plus $4 million in official campaign money of his own – plus the enthusiastic, repeated endorsements from Trump in a state Trump himself had carried handily last November. By contrast, Moore received little outside financial help, and ran his own campaign on less than $2 million.
Strange had been appointed in a controversial fashion by disgraced then-Gov. Robert Bentley, who was under criminal investigation by Strange’s office (and others) at the very same time Strange sought the appointment. Reports also were rampant that McConnell and his political team threatened serious political reprisals against any candidate who ran against Strange and to any political consultant who worked for any opponent of Strange.
But Moore has a powerful organization of his own, one based on churches and social media, and thus almost completely immune from Washington power brokers. Moore himself had been evicted twice from his job as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, once for fighting federal court orders concerning a Ten Commandments monument and once for fighting federal court orders regarding marriage licenses for homosexuals. But many Alabamans repeatedly told pollsters that they saw Moore not as an ethics offender but as someone who fell on his sword for principle.
Many national populist-conservative leaders had bucked Trump and McConnell, endorsing Moore instead. Among them were former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon, and radio hosts Sean Hannity, Mark Levin and Steve Deace.
So in an intramural fight, McConnell & Co. wasted millions of dollars that might have been used to defeat Democrats in 2018. Instead, McConnell is left severely weakened, his allies much poorer, and the populist GOP energized. As Jordan Gehrke, a one-time consultant to Rep. Mo Brooks, wrote, Moore's win:
...should cause the President and the Senate Republican Conference to seriously evaluate whether or not McConnell has either the vision or political acumen to lead the Senate Republican Conference any longer. There is a good argument to be made that McConnell is now a dead weight around the necks of GOP Senators who have to face an angry GOP base in 2018.
Mitch McConnell has had a bad week, and it’s only Tuesday.
McConnell failed to repeal ObamaCare again yesterday. Tonight, Alabama voters have handed him a stunning defeat. There is blood in the water now, and more conservative candidates who are hostile to the establishment are primed to step forward.
Republicans now have a choice: 2018 will either be a successful year with the GOP focused on picking up Democratic seats and passing a conservative agenda, or it will be a bloody Civil War with Mitch McConnell at the center, desperately clinging to power, forcing incumbent Senators to walk the plank out of loyalty to him.
If Mitch McConnell cares about the Republican Party, he should resign now.
If not, out of self preservation alone, the Senate GOP Conference should tell Mitch McConnell, “You’re fired.”
That's strong medicine. Probably too strong for some in the GOP Senate Conference to swallow. But they are politicians. As such, self-preservation is their highest priority. Will they cast McConell over the side to save themselves? Given the current GOP Senate make-up, that's a reach. While McConnell's colleagues may wish to see someone else in the job, the question becomes who steps up to take it.