Going to bat for Strange
Jeff Sessions’ appointment to the Attorney General post has left a Senate seat vacant. To fill it, Alabama is holding a special election this December. With the primary on August 15 and the runoff September 26.
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.
McConnell is responding in kind. His super PAC is set to spend as much as $8 million to boost his favored candidate, recently appointed Republican Sen. Luther Strange. McConnell has activated his sprawling donor network and pressed the White House for more resources. And the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Senate GOP campaign arm McConnell controls, has warned consultants they’ll be cut off from future work if they assist Strange’s opponents.
And in a highly unusual step, one of McConnell’s top political lieutenants has begun quietly advising a long-shot Republican primary candidate running for Brooks’ House seat. The move is designed to get in the congressman’s head and dissuade him from emptying his campaign war chest in the race for Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ old Senate seat.
It’s a massive undertaking by McConnell and his allies on behalf of Strange, who was appointed a mere six months ago to fill the seat until a special election. In part, McConnell’s urgency reflects his long-standing promise to protect besieged Republican incumbents in primaries. But it also underscores his struggles managing his narrow Senate majority, which were punctuated by the collapse of Obamacare repeal legislation last week after three Republicans broke ranks.
Moore, who’s pitched himself as a rebel, has no want of McConnell’s support. (Politico Ctd.):
Moore, who rose to national fame after he refused to obey a federal order to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from an Alabama judicial building, made his feelings clear about the leader in a lengthy fundraising appeal with the subject line, “You & Me vs Mitch McConnell.”
“If Mitch McConnell is accusing me of being a ‘conservative rebel’ who won’t march in lockstep behind his Big Government, big-spending agenda,” Moore wrote, “then I plead guilty as charged!”
“I don’t have — nor want — the backing of Mitch McConnell and his cronies in Washington,” Moore added.
At The Resurgent, Erickson writes that Strange and McConnell seemed more focused on tanking Brooks, means they view him as the bigger threat going into a runoff:
Strange is just another establishment hack and all the DC establishment hacks are going to bat for him.
The thing with Moore and Brooks is that Moore would be the more disruptive of the two, but the fact that Luther Strange is spending massive amounts of money to kill off Mo Brooks now suggests Strange fears Mo Brooks more than Moore.
I have a lot of friends who support Roy Moore, but it is worth noting that Strange and McConnell are both doing whatever they can to keep Mo Brooks out of a runoff. Their theory seems to be that Moore’s base may go to Mo Brooks, but no one else would join Moore. Moore is a rather polarizing figure.
That said, Moore is doing quite well and has a strong name ID and loyal base of supporters. The question is whether he can withstand all the money that is going to savage him in a runoff. The establishment has a vested interest in getting Luther Strange back to the Senate, which means you should have a vested interest in stopping him.
Mitch McConnell wants Luther Strange should be the campaign motto of either of Strange’s opponents. Do to McConnell in a Republican Primary what Republicans do to Nancy Pelosi in general elections and it could be the first step in ousting him as leader.
McConnell has long been successful when cranking up his influence machine, but with his inability to close the Obamacare repeal deal, he’s gonna need more luck than ever to pull off an incumbent upset this time around.
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