Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore defeated Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.) by a comfortable double-digit margin in Tuesday night’s GOP primary runoff – despite his rival’s backing from President Donald Trump – giving the evangelical favorite a historical victory over the establishment Republican.
As the frontrunner in the GOP showdown, Moore was predicted to handily overcome his opponent – with the help of some high-profile supporters, including former Gov. Sarah Palin (R-Alaska), former chief strategist Steve Bannon, actor and conservative commentator Chuck Norris and numerous members from the House of Representatives.
Decisive win for social conservatives
Shortly after the polls closed, Moore celebrated the news in Birmingham, Alabama, announcing that he racked in 55 percent of the vote – 10 percent more than Strange, who pulled in 45 percent. Despite the national attention given to the runoff, a relatively low turnout at the polls was estimated by state officials, who anticipated that approximately 15 percent of eligible voters would show up Tuesday.
Social conservatives hope that a repeat of Moore’s victory will take place later this year in a showdown against a key Democrat to fill the void left by Trump’s appointment of the nation’s new top cop.
“Moore is now the favorite in December’s general election against Democrat Doug Jones – a lawyer and former U.S. attorney during President Bill Clinton’s administration,” Fox News reported. “The winner of that race will complete the Senate term started by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and be up for re-election in 2020.”
Presidential power play not effective
Apparently, the endorsements of Trump and Vice President Mike Pence – who campaigned for the incumbent the week before the contest – were not enough to put Strange over the top Tuesday night.
“At a rally in Huntsville Friday, Trump portrayed Strange as loyal to him and said he appreciated how Strange agreed to vote for ObamaCare replacement legislation this summer without asking any favors from him,” Fox News’ Samuel Chamberlain noted. “However, Trump’s endorsement was overshadowed nationally by his attack on NFL players who kneel during the National Anthem prior to games.”
Taking a break from the NFL National Anthem controversy and from addressing the escalating tensions with North Korea, Trump took to Twitter before Alabamans hit the polls Tuesday morning to give them a final message.
“Finish the job [and] vote for ‘Big Luther,'” the president tweeted.
His running mate also took the opportunity to assure Republicans that Strange was not a progressive-leaning Democrat in the guise of a Republican – a message he hammered when appearing on stage after flying down to Birmingham Monday night.
“Luther Strange is a real conservative,” Pence insisted to a crowd of Republicans. “He’s a leader and a real friend to President Trump. I got to tell you, Big Luther has been making a big difference in Washington.”
A decisive victory was registered for Moore in the face of millions of dollars being pumped into the race by a super PAC tied to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel (R-Ky.). It was power plays such as this that enabled Moore to effectively portray himself as the anti-establishment candidate championing true conservative ideals.
“Mitch McConnell needs to be replaced and your vote tomorrow may determine that,” Moore told those attending a rally in Fairhope, Alabama, on Monday, according to Fox News. This audience included Bannon, Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson and Brexit leader Nigel Farage.
Bannon used messaging that helped label Moore as the patriotic candidate who stood for traditional values … and as a man who stands with – not against – the president.
“[Alabama can show the world] that this populist, nationalist, conservative movement is on the rise,” Bannon declared to those in attendance. “A vote for Roy Moore is a vote for Donald J. Trump.”
Champion of Christians and conservatism
Throughout Moore’s campaigning, he made it clear to Alabamans that he was the clear choice for those who hold traditional values in America close to their hearts.
“Wearing a white cowboy hat and leather vest at the rally Monday night, Moore repeated the conservative Christian themes he has used his entire public career,” Chamberlain pointed out. “He also lashed out at attack ads run against him in the race, including one suggesting he was weak on gun rights.”
Moore made it clear that he is no advocate of gun control, which was implied by his opponent.
“I believe in the Second Amendment,” Moore declared in the commercial while pulling a handgun from his pocket – a move that was repeated Tuesday by a Republican official at another rally.
Recent ads such as this one are not the only displays that have coined Moore as a Champion of traditional Americans.
“Moore, known in Alabama as the ‘Ten Commandments Judge,’ has a colorful political history that has both fueled and complicated his rise,” Chamberlain continued. “Moore first received national attention in the 1990s as a county judge when he hung a wooden Ten Commandments plaque on the wall of his courtroom. The ACLU filed a lawsuit against him.”
That was not the only time Moore drew recognition for standing up for America’s Christian heritage and values.
“Benefiting from his popularity after the episode, Moore then ran and won a race for chief justice of the state’s Supreme Court in 2000, but he was ousted after refusing to remove a 5,280-pound granite Ten Commandments monument from the rotunda of the state judicial building,” Chamberlain recounted. “Moore resurrected his political career in 2012, when he was elected chief justice again. But his second tenure was short-lived: in 2016, Moore was suspended as chief justice after he directed probate judges not to issue marriage certificates to gay couples.”
On the other hand, the circumstances that put Strange into office as the incumbent defending his Senate seat were used against him.
“Strange, the former attorney general in Alabama, was temporarily appointed to the seat in April by then-Gov. Robert Bentley, who has since resigned in disgrace,” informed Chamberlain. “Opponents have used the appointment against Strange, accusing Bentley of naming him to the seat so he could install someone who might be more sympathetic to him in the state attorney general’s office.”
But it was recent campaigning across Alabama over the past week that spurred voters to reconsider their ballot box selections.
John Lauer, a 76-year-old retiree from the United States Air Force maintained that it was Trump’s endorsement of Strange that motivated him to check the box for the incumbent.
“I voted for Strange,” Lauer announced to Fox News. “I’m a Trump voter. Either one is going to basically do the Trump agenda, but since Trump came out for Luther, I voted for Luther.”
On the other side, it was apparently divine intervention and Bannon stumping for Moore Monday night on Fox News that persuaded 74-year-old Merlene Bohannon to vote for the “Ten Commandments judge,” instead of Strange – who she originally intended on voting for.
“Steve Bannon and God spoke to me, and this morning when I went in, I voted for Moore,” Bohannon – a widow and mother of three grown children – shared with Fox News.
Other factors reportedly played a role in the final outcome.
“Overall, the race was expected to hinge on turnout of Mr. Moore’s rural base and Mr. Strange’s supporters around Birmingham and Mobile,” the New York Times reported. “To offset his rival’s dedicated backers, Mr. Strange counted on a larger number of voters – beyond those who participated in the primary.”
It was Strange’s reputation as the establishment candidate that drove Senate Leadership Fund President and CEO Steven Law to throw in all his chips for Moore.
“[Moore won the nomination] fair and square,” Law proclaimed, according to Newsmax. “[Moore] has our support, as it is vital that we keep this seat in Republican hands.”
The final tally provided by the Associated Press shows that with 100 percent (2,286 of 2,286 precincts reporting), Moore received 262,204 votes (54.6 percent) versus Strange’s 218,066 votes (45.4 percent).
Copyright American Family News. Reprinted with permission.