An important Senate primary race is being held on August 15 for the seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The incumbent, Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL) is up against two conservative opponents: Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) and former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore. Naturally, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is supporting Strange.
Here are five things you need to know about the Alabama Senate race.
1. Both Brooks and Moore are the real deal. Brooks has an 88% liberty score from Conservative Review and has been a thorn in the side of the establishment as a member of the House Freedom Caucus. Brooks endorsed Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in the 2016 GOP primary and has stated that McConnell should step down from his position as majority leader if he can't get an Obamacare repeal bill passed.
Judge Moore has proven to be a man who stands by his principles even when everyone else is against him: (H/T: Conservative Review)
In 2003, he could have easily obeyed an illegal federal district judge’s order who abused the rules of standing to allow a bunch of lawyers to demand Moore rip down a replica of the Ten Commandments at the court house. But he stood his ground and was suspended by a bunch of unelected lawyers. He ran again for chief justice and won fair and square despite having all of the monied interests against him. Then, when the courts redefined marriage and nullified the state’s marriage laws, Moore, once again, stood alone in upholding the existing law on the books and was removed from office, again, by unelected lawyers … all because of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Moore has also declared in a fundraising letter, "I don't have — nor want — the backing of Mitch McConnell and his cronies in Washington."
2. Strange, on the other hand, is an establishment squish who was appointed to the seat under shady circumstances. Daniel Horowitz explains that Strange was appointed to Sessions' seat while he, as attorney general of the state, was investigating then-Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley (R) for using state money to hide an affair. There was a serious possibility that Bentley was going to be impeached, yet Strange asked the state House Judiciary Committee to halt the impeachment proceedings. Rep. Ed Henry (R-Harstelle), who began those proceedings, claimed that the whole situation "looks like colluson."
In the Senate, Strange has been nothing more than a rubber stamp for McConnell.
"Luther Strange, on the other hand, has been in the witness protection program as major health care, immigration, and budget battles unfold," writes Horowitz. "He is merely a quiet yes-man for McConnell and K Street."
3. McConnell and the establishment are going all in on Strange. According to Politico, McConnell is hosting a fundraiser for Strange on Tuesday and his lackeys in the Senate Leadership Fund are pouring millions of dollars in ads to benefit Strange. His lackeys in the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) are refusing to do business with any campaign vendor that's working with Strange's opponents and the Republican National Committee (RNC) is capitulating to McConnell's demands that the RNC "coordinate expenditures with the NRSC," per Horowitz.
4. Most polls show Moore leading the pack. Because of a dearth of public polling, the best indicators of the race have come from internal polling. Politico does highlight one "independent survey" showing Strange at 33%, Moore at 26% and Brooks at 16%, but that appears to be an outlier, as according to AL.com, "Almost every internal campaign poll has former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore leading over his GOP rivals."
5. The establishment seems to be focusing their fire on Brooks for now. This is because, according to The New York Times, they view Moore as the weaker candidate. If no one reaches 50% on August 15, the election will go to a runoff on September 26, so at this point the establishment is hoping that Strange will be able to beat out Brooks for second place and will then be able to defeat Moore in September.
Conservatives can cause the establishment to chatter in fear if the September runoff is Moore vs. Brooks. That may be the kind of jolt needed in order to leverage the Senate Republicans into repealing Obamacare.