Republican voters in Alabama sent a message to President Trump and Congressional Republicans by selecting Roy Moore, not Luther Strange, in the Republican Senate Primary.
As The Washington Post noted, Strange had been endorsed by key Republicans like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and President Trump himself.
Moore is a highly controversial figure who has previously said Christian biblical precepts should be able to negate federal court decisions. He was suspended twice from his position as Chief Justice of Alabama’s State Supreme Court.
Given Alabama’s Republican leanings, Moore is now the favorite to win the seat formerly held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Former U.S. attorney Doug Jones is the Democratic candidate for the seat.
Strange’s loss is especially damaging to McConnell, who also had to deal with the failure of another attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act on Tuesday.
McConnell ally Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) also announced he would retire in 2018. His retirement should set up another confrontation between the populist and establishment wings of the Republican party.
Moore’s win was celebrated by former White House strategist Steve Bannon, who said the primary result demonstrated “populist national conservative movement is on the rise.” Political observers now expect populists to focus on Senate races in Arizona, Nevada, and Mississippi.
Moore is the first Republican Senate candidate since 2014 to win a primary in spite of attacks from the Republican establishment and a lack of support from key Republican constituencies like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Some of Moore’s campaign promises include attempting to eliminate the filibuster in the Senate, impeaching judges who do not agree with his version of Christian doctrine, and military deployment on the U.S.-Mexico border. Moore also said he would have voted against the recent proposed health care legislation, Graham-Cassidy, because he believed it was insufficiently conservative.
Although Trump campaigned for Moore’s opponent, Moore embraced the president in a rally on Monday. “We did not come here to defy Donald Trump,” he said.
The general election will be on December 12.