Voters across America are paying attention to Alabama’s Senate special election. But why? (Real-Time News from AL.com)

Voters across America are paying attention to Alabama’s Senate special election. But why?

http://bit.ly/2kwqPzT

Alabama voters could help flip control of the U.S. Senate away from Republicans by electing Democrat Doug Jones in next week’s special election, and that strange situation is the main reason the race is drawing intense national interest.

But it’s not the only reason.

Beyond the political struggle, the battle between Republican Roy Moore and the women who accuse him of sexual misconduct has made Alabama the one of the latest stages for America’s sexual harassment drama.

There’s also the simple fact the Alabama race is, in the words of Washington political analyst Nathan Gonzales of Inside Elections, “the only game in town right now, and by town, I mean the country right now.”

“The 2018 elections are almost a year away and something of a theoretical fight,” Gonzales said this month, “but the Alabama special election is happening (now). It’s a tangible thing that people can hold on to at a time when they’re more often citing the theoretical. There’s going to be a winner and a loser, and that makes it interesting right now.”

It’s also the next election in the presidency of Donald Trump, Gonzalez said.

“On many levels Americans could be interested,” agreed political analyst Jennifer Duffy of The Cook Political Report. But she says the importance of the Moore vs. Jones vote on Dec. 12 starts with the pending aftereffects in the Senate.

A chance to balance (or tip) the Senate scales

“If Doug Jones were to pull this off,” Duffy said early in December, “it would become mathematically possible for the Democrats to vie for the majority in 2018. It’s not mathematically possible today.”

“The Senate math is really bad for (Democrats) next year in that they already hold 25 of the 33 seats being contested,” said Kyle Kondik, who analyzes elections at the University of Virginia Center for Politics. “While the Senate majority is just 52-48 Republican, it’s going to be really hard for the Democrats to actually take the Senate, because they would need to net three seats. They would need to hold everything they have and also find three seats.”

Two other states, Arizona and Nevada, have Republican seats up for election in 2018 that Democrats have a chance of winning, the analysts say, but there isn’t much else out there.

“By this fluke of Roy Moore’s candidacy,” Kondik said, “the Democrats could win in Alabama, and it could hypothetically be the majority-making seat for them. So, even though the Alabama special election is happening 11 months before the 2018 midterms, it could be the decisive seat a year from now. If Jones wins it.”

Winning the Senate would give Democrats more control of the legislative agenda, control of potential investigations into the Trump administration and a chance to pay Republicans back by blocking Trump appointments to the Supreme Court.

The just-announced resignation of Democratic Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota probably won’t change that math. Minnesota’s Democratic governor can name a Democrat to replace Franken until the next election in November of 2018, and the state has voted for a Democrat for president since 1976. That suggests the odds are very good it will choose another Democratic senator.

What a Moore win could mean for Republicans

But if Moore wins, Duffy said, that’s not necessarily cause for Republican celebration.

“Roy Moore would be nothing but problems for the Republicans,” Duffy said. She called him “a TV booker’s dream.”

“My guess is he’ll take every opportunity offered him (for publicity),” she said.

Duffy compared Moore to former Republican U.S. Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri. Akin ran for the Senate as a Republican in 2012 and said, among other controversial things, that pregnancy rarely occurs in what he called “legitimate rape.”

Following Akin’s comments, “every Republican candidate and every Republican incumbent, every time they did something, was asked, ‘Do you support what Aiken said?'” Duffy said. “This haunted them, but it also had a corrosive effect on other Senate races across the country.”

In this scenario, if Moore wins and goes to the Senate, he becomes “something of a virus” for the Republican party, she said.

“His views are very controversial,” Duffy said. “Even within the Republican party, they’re controversial.”

Duffy also believes Moore would be a ticking time bomb. “(GOP Senate leader Mitch) McConnell’s not joking about an ethics inquiry” if Moore wins, she said.

“Unlike the House, where the Ethics Committee can only look at things you’ve done in office,” Duffy said, “the Senate has no such restriction. And if the Ethics Committee comes up with a real finding …, someone will file a motion for expulsion.”

Moore wouldn’t resign, Duffy predicted, raising the possibility he could become “the first member expelled since the 1860s… history in the worst way possible.”

Kondik agreed that Moore would be controversial in the Senate, and he also doesn’t think he would be a reliable vote for the GOP leadership on certain issues.

“There would probably be at least a period of time when the big story in Washington would be ‘What’s the Senate going to do about Roy Moore?'” Kondik added.

“We’re in the midst of a very important cultural moment about sexual harassment and sexual misconduct, and there have been a lot of accusations against the president about that. Obviously, there have (also been allegations) about Roy Moore,” Kondik said, referring to recent claims by at least nine women who say Roy Moore in his 30s acted inappropriately toward them when they were teenagers.

“If the public decides they want to blame Republicans for this problem — which I don’t know they will because there have been Democrats accused of this (as well) — Moore being in the Senate might contribute to the public thinking of sexual misconduct as being more of a Republican problem,” Kondik said.

“He is a headache (for the GOP),” Kondik said of Moore. “How important of one it is hard to say.”

Closer to home in Alabama, retired political science professor Dr. Jess Brown said he is watching “the fight within the Republican Party between social conservatives and what I’ll call business conservatives or Eisenhower conservatives.”

Brown described Moore as “an iconic figure for social conservatives.” Moore is known for his strong public stances against abortion and same-sex marriage — two cornerstone issues for social conservatives.

“If he loses in a crimson red state, that’s clearly a blow for social conservatives. The business people who bankroll these campaigns are going to start to say, ‘Look, we’ve got to have a more moderate conservative, because the fire-breathing conservatives are losing now even in Alabama,'” Brown said.

The counter argument social conservatives might use to explain a Moore loss? “That it simply shows that this particular social conservative had his reputation destroyed by that ‘evil’ Washington Post,” Brown said.

“Everybody needs to understand this,” Brown said. “If Jones wins, this is an aberration…. This election is not really a referendum on the value of the R or D label in Alabama. It’s a referendum on Roy Moore.”

Alabama

via Real-Time News from AL.com http://bit.ly/2zzWl2c

December 7, 2017 at 10:22AM