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Can Trump Endorsement Save Senator Strange Tuesday?

Can Trump Endorsement Save Senator Strange Tuesday?
Alabama Sen. Luther Strange (AP)

Sunday, 13 August 2017 08:21 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Just how much political punch Donald Trump’s endorsement packs will get a crucial test in 24 hours.

Alabamians will go to the polls Tuesday to choose a nominee for the special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat relinquished by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Appointed Senator Luther Strange recently got the nod of the president, who tweeted on August 9: "Senator Luther Strange has done a great job representing the people of the Great State of Alabama. He has my complete and total endorsement!"

But in spite of Trump's support and that of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, former state Attorney General Strange is the underdog in the nine-candidate primary Tuesday.

A just-completed JMC Analytics poll among likely voters Tuesday shows onetime Chief Justice Roy Moore leading with 30 percent of the vote, followed by Strange at 22 percent and Rep. Mo Brooks 19 percent.

Under Alabama law, if no candidate wins 50 percent of the vote in the primary, the two top vote-getters will meet in a run-off September 26. The winner of the GOP runoff will be the odds-on favorite to win the special election December 12.

Trump tweets in favor of candidates normally help Republican candidates by exciting grass-roots party activist. In the nationally-watched special election in Georgia's Sixth District June 21, Republican Karen Handel tweeted out Trump's endorsement on the Monday before the balloting and rolled up big margins in reliably Republican precincts.

But it remains to be seen whether his endorsement will help a candidate backed by the Republican "establishment" against two opponents who have much stronger followings among the party "grassroots" who are considered pro-Trump.

Easily the most controversial politician in Alabama, West Point graduate Moore, 70, wears his two removals from the chief justice's position if they were Olympic Gold Medals: the first time in 2003 for defying orders from fellow jurists to remove a monument containing the Ten Commandments from the state Hall of Justice and, having won the office back at the polls, was removed a second time in 2016 for encouraging local officials to defy the U.S. Supreme Court ruling permitting same-sex marriages.

"I know Judge Moore and agree with a lot of what he says," former State Republican Chairman Marty Conners told Newsmax, "But even [segregationist Gov.] George Wallace ended his defiance of federal officials when courts ruled he had to stand down. Judge Moore never gave up in his defiance, even after his colleagues ordered him to."

Four-term Rep. Brooks, a member of the House Freedom Caucus and favorite of national conservative activists. Among those weighing in strongly for Brooks are radio talk show host Laura Ingraham and the Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF).

On June 14, Brooks gained brief national attention as one of the players at the congressional baseball team's warm-up session when a gunman attacked. The Alabamian helped with the wounded and later told reporters he remained committed to the right to keep and bear arms after the shooting.

"And I am fully committed to getting rid of the Senate filibuster altogether," Brooks told Newsmax, "Everything significant that was passed by Democrats — the New Deal, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare — came when the Democrats had the votes and we couldn't stop them. The only way we'll get anything through [the Senate] is to end the filibuster."

"Luther Strange's establishment brand is hurting him, and many conservatives here don't agree with Trump’s endorsement," says engineer Shaun McCutcheon, Republican activist who boarded the "Trump Train" early last year.

McCutcheon, famed as the plaintiff in the eponymous Supreme Court case that lifted the limits on contributions to party committees, added that "the turnout will be so low and will consist mainly of grassroots conservatives. That helps Moore, who won the three-way race for chief justice [in '12] without a runoff.”

He added that despite the millions in TV spots on Strange's behalf, "he looks like a politician anointed by the Republican leadership. And the leadership is not selling well here after the failure to repeal Obamacare."

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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Just how much political punch Donald Trump's endorsement packs will get a crucial test in 24 hours.Alabamians will go to the polls Tuesday to choose a nominee for the special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat relinquished by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Appointed...
Trump, endorsement, Luther Strange, Alabama
Sunday, 13 August 2017 08:21 PM
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