Roy Moore’s victory in the Alabama Republican Senate primary Tuesday appears to show Washington establishment Republicans are still not safe after President Trump’s insurgent 2016 candidacy.
“A stunning defeat for Mitch McConnell,” Roger Stone, a longtime Republican political operative, told The Daily Caller Wednesday about the election result.
Moore defeated Sen. Luther Strange, who was endorsed by President Trump. Sam Nunberg, a former Trump campaign aide, blamed presidential son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner for the endorsement, telling TheDC it was a “shameful” move by Kushner.
Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon also privately charged that Trump’s son-in-law was responsible for the endorsement, according to a Republican Alabama political operative. A White House official has denied that Kushner was involved with the endorsement.
Bannon contended that Kushner pushed Trump to endorse Strange in order to please McConnell, according to the Alabama source. Another source close to the White House said that it was the Senate Majority Leader himself who pushed Trump to back Strange.
Whether Kushner or McConnell, a loss for Strange isn’t a loss for Trump, according to the president’s allies.
Trump already has scrubbed prior tweets showing his support for Strange, and tweeted Tuesday night, “Spoke to Roy Moore of Alabama last night for the first time. Sounds like a really great guy who ran a fantastic race. He will help to #MAGA!”
Moore, a former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice, is a brash candidate who recently spoke about fighting between “reds and yellows” and said in 2015 that “homosexuality should be illegal.”
Sen. Strange’s takeaway from his loss to the former judge is that “the political winds in this country, right now, are very hard to understand.”
“We’re dealing with a political environment that I’ve never had any experience with,” Strange told supporters after the results came in Tuesday night, according to The Washington Examiner.
Former Trump aide Nunberg said, “Judge Moore’s epic victory despite being outspent by 10:1 with vicious character assassinations by the establishment – is a reminder to the Trump administration that the movement doesn’t need them. They need us.”
Moore was boosted by nonstop positive coverage from Breitbart News. The publication is headed again by Bannon, and the former top Trump aide reportedly seeks to focus on 2018 races.
“Alabama, tomorrow, gets to show the entire world … you get to show them this populist, nationalist conservative movement is on a rise,” Bannon said at a Monday rally in support of Moore.
The following day and just hours before the election was called in Alabama, Republican Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker announced he wouldn’t seek re-election in 2018.