Will Alabama Republicans make the same mistake twice?
Next Tuesday, Alabama Republicans voters will go to the polls for a Senate Republican primary runoff election. Alabama is thought of as a conservative state yet is currently being represented by Democrat Doug Jones. How did that happen? Could the same result happen again? Approximately three years ago, Republicans nominated Judge Roy Moore to run in a special election to fill the seat vacated by Senator Jeff Sessions when he became the US Attorney General. Judge Moore was a well-known yet controversial figure in Alabama government. And Alabama Republicans decided to make him their candidate for Senate even though other capable candidates were available, including a sitting senator, Luther Strange, who had been appointed by the governor. I won't belabor all the details of that race here. Alabamans know the history all too well. But ultimately Judge Moore lost an election he should have won.
Yes, Judge Moore would have made a good Senator. But he didn't win. Winning isn't everything but it is necessarily the first step to represent the people of Alabama who are currently being represented by Democrat Doug Jones. Don't get me wrong. I supported Judge Moore myself because I thought Alabama Republicans knew their state and should have made the right choice. But Alabama Republicans made a mistake. The Moore race became about Judge Moore. Judge Moore was wronged, you say. Even if that is true, and I were to agree with you, he lost an election because the election became about him and his past controversies. And too many Alabamans couldn't support that.
Which brings us to the current runoff. Former Senator Jeff Sessions and former football coach Tommy Tuberville are the two candidates who will face off in the primary election. Of course Jeff Sessions represented Alabama in the US Senate and was a fixture in either Alabama politics or the US Federal Justice department for many years. But Sessions is currently being criticized for his tenure as Attorney General. Sessions recused himself from the "Russia" investigation that was being conducted by the Justice Department. It seems clichéd to say, but American Thinker readers, I suspect, would agree that the largest US federal government corruption scandal in history happened with the weaponizing of the federal justice/intelligence community by Obama administration against the Trump campaign and the Trump presidency. And keep in mind the corrupt elements in the US Department of Justice were not just political appointees but career Justice Department officials. Even current Attorney General Barr has admitted that some familiar names may be on the list of potential perpetrators. Members of that corrupt cabal were the people who convinced Jeff Sessions to recuse himself.
One of Saul Alinsky's rules for radicals is to force enemies to live up to their own rules. Sessions fell for this tactic. Plenty of conservative legal scholars have disagreed with Sessions’s argument for recusal. But Sessions’s failure is worse than just the recusal. As he continues to defend his decision, and while he does level some criticism of James Comey, he has yet to comment on all the elements of the scandal. I have yet to see anyone confront him in an interview with the scandal itself. How did it happen? What did he know and when did he know it? Sessions doesn't answer these questions because he can't. The biggest scandal in US history happened under his nose and he did nothing about it. There is only one logical conclusion. He was in the DC swamp for too long to see it.
Whether Sessions and his supporters like it or not, there are Alabamans who won't support him because when he needed to take on the swamp, he sat on the sidelines. Sessions also was a latecomer to the race. Is this race about representing Alabama or is it about Sessions needing to resurrect his reputation? His candidacy is too much about him. There is no question that Sessions is a good man who was a good senator. But can he win this election or will the DC controversy prevent that? The Moore candidacy was hindered by his controversies and the focus on him. Supporters of Sessions are making the same mistake.
The other man running to become the next Senator from Alabama is Coach Tommy Tuberville, a former football coach who was a relatively successful coach at a number of universities. One of the complaints about Tuberville seems to be that he's just a football coach and therefore he must just be running on his ego. Other complaints include the fact that he has said things in the past, for instance about immigration, that don't toe the conservative line. He wasn't as fast as some to jump on the Trump bandwagon. He isn't well versed in the workings of the federal government. He's not really an Alabaman. He's from Florida (oh, the horror). Notice the parallels to the complaints about Trump. He's just a reality TV star with an ego. He's not really a conservative. He isn't a politician and doesn't know how things work in DC. He supported Democrats in the past. He's from New York. And yet the president has been working very hard to advance conservative principles in the federal government despite blowback from Democrats and RINO Republicans.
Tommy Tuberville (Photo credit: J.Glover, Atlanta, Georgia)
So, what does Tuberville bring to the race? The same thing Trump does. Successful leadership. An ability to rise above the criticism, having been in public life for 40 years as a coach. He has withstood the inane criticisms of sports talk -- i.e., inane news reporting. He can take on the swamp and not worry about his reputation. Tuberville's solid conservative positions on issues are clear and can be understood by reading his website of listening to interviews he has given. Yes he understands that we need a border wall and that illegal immigration is an existential threat to the country. He is not going to take a salary as a senator. His current positions may be even more conservative than President Trump.
As a former football coach, Tuberville also has an opportunity through his connections, to reach out to people in Alabama who may not otherwise consider voting Republican. This is an important point. The process of going from a liberal political mindset to a conservative one is primarily through education. But it also takes a willingness for a teacher, like a coach, to present the information in an environment where other people are willing to listen. Tuberville can bring that dialog to the table in many forums other than political ones.
Alabama Republicans have a choice. They can follow a similar failed path that defeated Roy Moore and inaugurated Doug Jones. Or strike a bold path back to sound conservative leadership by voting for Coach Tuberville.