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November 14, 2017

What To Do About Roy Moore and the At-Risk AL Senate Seat?

Although Roy Moore is currently ahead in polls, his support is dropping. Based on current trends -- always a dangerous beginning to a sentence -- there's a decision cascade coming at which point his support will suddenly drop quite a bit, and he'll be behind Jones, maybe by a fair amount.

This boat seems slow getting to full steam but once it gets there, it will have unstoppable momentum.

So what to do? We certainly don't want to lose this seat.

I see only two options to try to save the seat. But everyone would have to be on board with them to make either work.

First: The Republican Senators announce, more or less to a person, that if elected, Roy Moore would not be seated. This then permits the Alabama GOP to attempt a campaign claiming "Vote for Roy Moore just so that the Republican governor may appoint a replacement in his stead." In other words, vote for Roy Moore, get a Republican other than Roy Moore. (Not Luther Strange, as he was specifically rejected by Republican voters.)

Treat the vote as a vote for a party preference and not an individual, because the Senate has announced he won't be taking that seat either way.

Second: This is the harder one. (That last one was hard, but this one is harder.)

A write in campaign. But here's the problem, of course: any write-in will likely just split the GOP vote so that Doug Jones wins outright. For this option to work, it would be necessary for around 90% of the Alabama GOP agree not only to write in a different candidate name, but the same candidate name.

That's tough after a tough primary that divided Republican voters.

One name seems obvious: Jeff Sessions. A good name to unify people that everyone already knows.

Well, Jeff Sessions has already said he's not interested in being Senator, but if Jeff Sessions won, that would create a situation where the winner does not take the seat, once again, I think, setting up the circumstances for the Alabama governor to appoint a temporary senator in his stead.

Writing in Jeff Sessions may be more morally palatable for some than voting for Roy Moore, even if the net result is exactly the same. (Governor appoints temporary Senator to fill seat until 2020 election.)

Another possibility -- a bad one, I think -- is to agree to write in Luther Strange, the runner-up in the GOP primary. I don't think this would work because this was a vigorously contested primary and the people who voted against Strange did so for a reason; they were generally anti-establishment, and wanted that anti-establishment sentiment to be heard, and I don't think they'll cotton to the idea of giving Strange the seat they chose to not give him.

However, this is just a temporary seat that comes up for proper general election in 2020. This isn't forever. (Though the idea of Doug Jones holding the seat for that long does seem like forever...)

I realize people will say "Mo Brooks is better than both of these guys" and I'd agree, but the problem is, given that he came in 3rd in the primary, what actual claim would he have to be the write-in candidate of consensus, apart from many of us just thinking he was the best candidate from the start? At least Strange could say "I was the runner-up" and "I was already in the seat and didn't blow up the world."

I'm not in Strange's camp; I just want to figure out some way to not give up this seat. Strange seems doable (if a bitter pill for some) while Brooks seems not doable.

If there were an establishment people actually trusted, they could make a quick decision and say "This is best for Alabama, and for America, as far as keeping the Senate in (nominal) GOP control." The problem is, of course, that people do not trust the establishment, so this important role of making tough decisions that people will trust as a respectable, practical compromise, is currently not being played by anyone.

I think the Vote Moore to Get Someone Else plan is the strongest-- especially given that Moore voters don't have to themselves be convinced to vote for Moore -- but we'd need wide consensus on that plan for it to work, and I don't know of anyone in the GOP who has broad enough appeal and trust to push that. Let alone the 6-10 "Wise Men" you'd need to convince people on this plan.

Oh, by the way:

If the Democrats win this, and the Senate slips to a 51-49 (with independents) Republican majority, do you want to bet your life that none of our liberal Senators make it official and jump to the Democrats, or independents caucusing with Democrats, to make it a 50-50 tie?

Whatever is going to be done, it must be done quickly and resolutely. If we're gonna back Roy Moore, then we have to all agree that we're backing this horse, come what may (and what may be coming is further allegations -- and evidence, and growing moral qualms about pulling the lever for Moore, even if done with the intent of not electing Moore).

If we're gonna cut him loose, we have to agree on way to cut him loose him that still keeps the seat Republican. And we have to agree on that quickly, and then stick with that.

The election is December 12th, less than a month away. I really think we have to put aside concerns (real concerns, admittedly) about having imperfect information and what's fair to Roy Moore and focus ruthlessly on what is necessary to keep this seat.

It's time to be as ruthless as MacBeth: "If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well/It were done quickly."

Corrected: Commenters tell me the seat comes up for re-election in 2020, not 2018, and I believe them.

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posted by Ace at 07:31 PM

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