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Tags: levin | runoff | strange | alabama

McConnell's Maneuverings Could Impact Ala. Senate Race

McConnell's Maneuverings Could Impact Ala. Senate Race
Last week, candidate for U.S. Senate Sen. Luther Strange, R-Ala., spoke with attendees after the U.S. Senate candidate forum held by the Shelby County Republican Party in Pelham, Ala. Sen. Strange is running in the special election to fill the seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty)

Michael Dorstewitz By Thursday, 10 August 2017 11:55 AM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

There’s a lot of head scratching going on in Alabama these days.

The right is wondering if there’s a united effort to keep conservative candidates from taking over the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

After Sessions, a conservative himself, was sworn into office, Gov. Robert Bentley, R-Ala., appointed Luther Strange to keep the seat warm until the Dec. 12 special election.

Strange was the Alabama state attorney general at the time, and there were rumblings that his appointment was a quid pro quo arrangement. He’d asked the Alabama House to hold off impeachment proceedings against Republican Bentley last year.

Strange apparently found Capitol Hill to his liking, and announced his intention to run in next Tuesday’s primary, where he’ll face stiff competition — especially from conservatives Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., and former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Ray Moore.

But the last thing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., wants is another Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, or Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, to deal with. So the Kentucky Republican is pulling out all the stops to see that Strange gets to stay where he is.

McConnell’s hardball tactics include making up to $8 million from his own super PAC available to assure Sen. Luther Strange remains in office. The Kentuckian also added the weight of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which is under his control, to the effort, and advised political consultants that any work they do for Strange’s opponents will be done at the cost of future work for the NRSC.

Meanwhile, the Senate’s Obamacare repeal/replace debacle has led to a minor feud between McConnell and President Trump.

Earlier this week, the Senate majority leader attributed Trump’s frustration over the Senate’s failure to get Obamacare repealed to "artificial deadlines" the president imposed. "Now our new president has of course not been in this line of work before, " Sen. McConnell said. "And I think had excessive expectations about how quickly things happen in the democratic process."

Trump took exception and used his favorite medium — Twitter — to fire back at the Kentuckian. "Sen. Mitch McConnell said I had 'excessive expectations,' but I don't think so," Trump tweeted. "After 7 years of hearing repeal and replace, why not done?"

Given the president’s irritation with the Senate majority leader, one might assume that Trump would cast his lot with either Brooks or Moore. Not so. On this issue he’s copacetic with McConnell. "Sen. Luther Strange has done a great job representing the people of the Great State of Alabama," the president tweeted Tuesday. "He has my complete and total endorsement!"

Strange, with money provided by McConnell’s super-PAC, touted Trump’s endorsement with a six-second campaign ad.

The president’s endorsement left Brooks confused. "I respect President Trump, but I am baffled and disappointed Mitch McConnell and the Swamp somehow misled the president into endorsing Luther Strange," Brooks said in a statement. "Perhaps the President is unaware that Luther Strange corruptly and unethically held a criminal investigation over the head of disgraced Governor Bentley to obtain the senate appointment."

If Brooks was disappointed, conservative radio host Mark Levin was livid. "Outrageous! Jeff Roe, Cruz's former presidential campaign manager, celebrating Trump's pathetic endorsement of . . . [Luther Strange]," Levin tweeted. Levin added, "Trump-McConnell-Rove-Roe join together to defeat conservatives in Alabama Senate race. We won't forget."

It’s not difficult to understand Trump’s thinking. He obviously believes that conservatives like Cruz and Lee, as well as libertarian-leaning senators like Rand Paul, R-Ky., are too much of a loose cannon to get his legislative agenda through the Senate.

Although the power and money may be behind Strange, it’s going to be a rocky road for him. A July 20 Cygnal/Politico poll had him easily leading the field of nine GOP candidates with 35 percent of the vote.

Since then, however, his popularity has been steadily declining. The latest, an August 7 JMC Analytics poll, had Moore leading at 30 percent, followed by Strange at 22 percent and Brooks at 19 percent.

Assuming no candidate attains a majority on Aug.15 — an odds-on certainty — a runoff of the two top vote-getters is scheduled for Sept. 26. And it’s entirely conceivable that Strange could be victorious in a head-to-head contest against Moore or Brooks.

The fix could be in.

Michael Dorstewitz is a retired lawyer and has been a frequent contributor to BizPac Review and Liberty Unyielding. He’s also a former U.S. Merchant Marine officer and an enthusiastic Second Amendment supporter, who can often be found honing his skills at the range. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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The last thing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., wants is another Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, or Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, to deal with. So the Kentucky Republican is pulling out all the stops. The fix could be in.
levin, runoff, strange, alabama
Thursday, 10 August 2017 11:55 AM
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