Is national politics now a fly stuck in amber? Trump kicked off his 2020 reelection campaign Tuesday, kvetching about emails, “complete exoneration, no obstruction” and all of his usual talking points. Thursday, Roy Moore announced that he was back in politics, set up to do a rematch with incumbent Democratic Senator Doug Jones. This looks to be a doozy already, with Moore slinging mud out of the gate. CBS News:
Taking a page out of President Trump’s playbook, Moore also lambasted Democrats for carrying out what he claimed was “evidence of intent to disrupt a state Senate race.” He said such “collusion” by Democratic operatives in Washington would not be tolerated and claimed Jones was the “beneficiary of election hacking.”
Very ugly rhetoric, but then that’s why Moore is known for. Now interestingly, despite the fact that Trump and Moore use an identical playbook, Trump isn’t backing Moore for the Senate. At least, he wasn’t last month.
“Republicans cannot allow themselves to again lose the Senate seat in the Great State of Alabama,” the president tweeted. “This time it will be for Six Years, not just Two. I have NOTHING against Roy Moore, and unlike many other Republican leaders, wanted him to win. But he didn’t, and probably won’t. … If Alabama does not elect a Republican to the Senate in 2020, many of the incredible gains that we have made during my Presidency may be lost, including our Pro-Life victories. Roy Moore cannot win, and the consequences will be devastating….Judges and Supreme Court Justices!”
Republicans are also reportedly wary that Moore’s second shot could potentially boost Democratic turnout. African American voters, who make up a sizable portion of the Alabama Democratic party, voted overwhelmingly for Jones 96 percent to four percent, and African American voters made up three in ten voters in 2017, according to a CBS News exit poll.
Look for this to be a particularly ugly race in an election year which is going to be one for the books. And I take no happiness in predicting this. I grieve that our national discourse has been dragged through the sewer in the Trump era. Having seen one Moore/Jones dust up, I have no desire to see another. But, Moore is driven, apparently, and in any event, he’s back.