Roy Moore defeated interim Sen. Luther Strange in the run-off for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Alabama Tuesday, a decisive win that the Senate Conservatives Fund says is already having reverberations throughout the nation.
Moore, twice elected Chief Justice of Alabama and twice removed for refusing to follow federal court orders on the Ten Commandments and same-sex marriage, defeated Strange by roughly ten percentage points. Strange was appointed to the seat earlier this year by disgraced former Gov. Robert Bentley following the confirmation of former Sen. Jeff Sessions as attorney general.
Not only did Moore win and win easily, he also overcame millions of dollars in attack ads from the Senate Leadership Fund, which is closely aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Moore also won despite President Trump’s active support for Sen. Strange.
Senate Conservatives Fund President Ken Cuccinelli says the impact of Moore’s win is huge.
“Judge Moore’s spectacular performance and the support of the Alabama’s grassroots was a sign across this country that the grassroots is serious about draining the swamp, about repealing Obamacare, about getting rid of amnesty and building the wall and all of those substantive reasons that motivated people to give the Republicans the majority in the first place,” said Cuccinelli.
He says the willingness of GOP voters in Alabama to defy Trump showed how deep the frustration goes with the status quo in Washington.
“The people of Alabama were serious about that. They were so serious about it that they disregarded the president’s endorsement of Judge Moore’s opponent because they knew the president was just trying to be nice to Mitch McConnell and this race really turned into Moore vs. McConnell,” said Cuccinelli.
“Ten million dollars and the president and the vice president could not save Luther Strange from the albatross around his neck in Mitch McConnell and the Gang of Five, the leadership team that loomed so large to the grassroots in Alabama,” he added.
Cuccinelli says a look at Strange’s voting record over the past few months wouldn’t necessarily alarm most conservatives but he says Strange’s alliance with McConnell turned into a liability.
“Luther Strange bought a ticket on the first-class cruise liner that was the SS McConnell. It turned out to be the Titanic,” said Cuccinelli.
“Luther is no Susan Collins or Lisa Murkowski, but he made it very clear from the moment he arrived in Washington that he was going to be on the McConnell team and Mitch McConnell is bad for America.” pronounced Cuccinelli.
Cuccinelli didn’t stop there.
“People think in terms of Republican-Democrat. Everything isn’t Republican Democrat. When we talk right-left, Mitch McConnell is part of the left. He’s part of the big government cronyism that is destroying this country,” said Cuccinelli.
“If we’re going to get America on a track to saving it for our children and grandchildren, Mitch McConnell is part of the problem, not the solution,” added Cuccinelli.
So how does this reverberate beyond Alabama? Cuccinelli says McConnell allies started sprinting before the exits even before the polls closed on Tuesday.
“Roy Moore didn’t just unseat appointed Sen. Luther Strange. He also forced the retirement of Bob Corker,” said Cuccinelli, alluding to the decision of Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn,. not to seek a third term in 2018.
Cuccinelli says the private data from the Moore-Strange race was clear days ago that Moore would win handily, and he believes Corker saw the handwriting on the wall for his own re-election bid.
“Bob Corker wanted to get out before it looked like he was running scared from his own grassroots. But, you know, that’s exactly what he was doing with his retirement yesterday,” said Cuccinelli.
Cuccinelli also asserts that the fact the Senate Leadership Fund was even involved in a GOP primary belies what McConnell’s goal really is in campaigns across the country.
“Mitch McConnell says, ‘Donate to my Super PAC so we can keep a Republican majority. That is not what the Senate Leadership Fund is about. It’s about protecting the Gang of Five and keeping Mitch McConnell leader. It has nothing to do with making America better. It has nothing to do with a Republican majority,” said Cuccinelli.
He says the Senate Leadership Fund will go all-in for candidates who are kindred spirits with McConnell but will leave strong conservatives twisting in the wind.
“Last year, they wouldn’t lift a finger – well they lifted their middle finger – but they wouldn’t lift a finger to help Darryl Glenn in one of only two states Republicans could win last year. and you know why they wouldn’t help Darryl Glenn in Colorado? Because he’s a conservative who wouldn’t knee-jerkingly support the leadership.
“Here’s a black conservative veteran, graduate of the Air Force Academy elected in one of the biggest counties in Colorado. They refused to support him despite the fact that he’s a candidate practically out of central casting from the 2012 Republican autopsy,” said Cuccinelli.
“They wouldn’t support him because they wouldn’t support Mitch McConnell. They were willing to risk the majority rather than support conservative Darryl Glenn last year. So no one should be fooled by Mitch McConnell’s so-called commitment to the Republican Party or the Republican majority. Mitch is for Mitch,” said Cuccinelli.
Cuccinelli is bullish on the midterm elections, not only in the possibility of insurgent conservatives replacing existing Republicans loyal to McConnell but in conservatives winning nominations and defeating Democrats in states Trump won big.
Specifically, he’s excited about the candidacies of Matt Rosendale against Sen. Jon Tester in Montana, Josh Mandel versus Democrat Sherrod Brown in Ohio and West Virginia Attorney General vying for the nomination to face Sen. Joe Manchin.
“This is the best cycle we’ve seen for conservatives that we’ve seen, frankly, since 2010,” said Cuccinelli. “There’s an awful lot of opportunity, not just to get Republicans replacing Democrats but to get good Republicans replacing Democrats.”