Next Tuesday, August 15, is an Alabama Special Election primary for the Republican nomination to replace Jeff Sessions in the U.S. Senate.

Luther Strange was an interim appointment, and is running. Congressman Mo Brooks and “controversial” former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore also are running. Since whoever gets the Republican nomination is all but guaranteed to win in the general election, the Republican Special Election essentially is the election.

If no candidate gets 50% of the vote, it goes to a September 26 runoff. According to polling released today, Moore is leading, with Brooks and Strange neck and neck for second place. AL.com reports:

Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore is leading Sen. Luther Strange by more than eight percentage points in the primary special election for the U.S. Senate, according to a poll released Thursday.

In a hypothetical runoff between Moore and Strange, the judge would prevail over the incumbent senator, 45 percent to 35 percent, the survey found.

Moore, who added “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson to his list of endorsements Thursday, tops the field of nine candidates with 31 percent support. Strange is eight points behind Moore at 23 percent, with Rep. Mo Brooks at 18 percent. State Sen. Trip People Pittman received 7 percent;o other candidate polled higher than 2 percent.

The polling was conducted in the middle of Strange picking up the endorsement of President Trump.

In early August Kemberlee covered the role of Mitch McConnell in supporting Strange, Why Mitch McConnell is Involved in an Alabama Special Election

The last thing Majority Leader McConnell wants is yet another dissenter in the ranks, so he’s throwing the full force of his war machine behind the current and recently appointed Senator Luther Strange. McConnell hopes to keep contenders Rep. Mo Brooks (a member of the House Freedom Caucus) and former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore out of a runoff for one reason — both have vocalized opposition to McConnell.

Most of what I’ve seen about the race prior the last couple of days has been the seemingly endless flow of emails from the Republican Senate Leadership Fund, effectively controlled by Mitch McConnell, attacking Brooks as not sufficiently pro-Trump, and as anti-Trump. Here’s just one example:

I began to pay attention to the race after Trump endorsed Strange, the McConnell-backed establishment candidate. Mark Levin expressed reacted:

Outrageous! Jeff Roe, Cruz’s former presidential campaign manager, celebrating Trump’s pathetic endorsement of Luther Strange, McConnell’s RINO puppet, screwing conservatives in Alabama and across the nation. I don’t want to hear this outsider crap anymore.

https://twitter.com/jeffroe/status/895093036312518656

Daniel Horowitz, a Moore supporters, writes at Conservative Review:

Let’s put aside the fact that Luther Strange has been embraced by every lobbyist, special interest cartel, Mitch McConnell, and Karl Rove. This man has already been in office for six months and has quietly gone along with every last morsel of McConnell’s agenda. When Rand Paul, Mike Lee, and Ted Cruz were fighting to repeal Obamacare, Strange was never anywhere close to the fight. Indeed, he’s been in the witness protection program on every issue. Which is just the way McConnell likes it.

So now I’m paying attention. Alabama is a safe red state. There’s no reason to compromise in deep red territory. In blue territory, like Michigan, you don’t get that luxury so you go with whoever can win – and if that’s Kid Rock, so be it.

I don’t know a lot about the candidates in the Alabama Special Election, so I don’t know who the best conservative candidate is. But the interests of Mitch McConnell, conservatism, and Trump don’t necessarily converge.

Since his endorsement of Strange, Trump has started a mini-Twitter campaign against McConnell, after McConnell complained that Trump had unrealistic expectations as to getting things done in Washington.

Trump was coy when asked if McConnell should step aside:

As I’ve stated many times before, Trump needs to be pushed in a conservative direction whenever possible. Building a conservative caucus is one of the ways to do that.

The Alabama Special Election should be about building a conservative caucus in the Senate, not consolidating Mitch McConnell’s power. Trump could win by Strange losing.