A Tale of Two Senators?

The Briefing, Vol. V, Issue 49

We wish all of our readers a Happy Thanksgiving, and bring them this holiday update.

Senate 2017

Alabama: President Trump’s controversial quasi-endorsement of Roy Moore, in spite of credible allegations of sexual misconduct against the former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice, has at least guaranteed one thing. Trump has made sure that he will be held responsible for the outcome, one way or the other.

Alabama Republican leaders’ decision to close ranks around Moore is remarkable, and potentially consequential. The backing of several top leaders such as Gov. Kay Ivey means the state party has a lot at stake in this race as well.

But the decision has, for now, restored what seemed like a lost race (and might still be one) to the point that it at least seems like it might still be winnable. A local television station’s poll even has Moore with a slim lead, and many voters may back him just to prevent Democrats from gaining a seat.

Were Moore to succeed and defeat Democrat Doug Jones, it would be rather awkward for the several Senate Republicans who announced they would immediately expel Moore from the Senate. Unless, of course, they are completely sincere and plan to act immediately to expel him.

However, in the current environment, they would also seriously risk having Alabama Republicans renominate him when they go to fill the seat again, which would be awfully embarrassing. The intense hatred of D.C. and its entire way of doing things, which elected Trump and in this case helped nominate Moore, has not been quenched by this misadventure. And justly so. Given the D.C. establishment’s role in making Moore the Republican nominee instead of Rep. Mo Brooks, no one is pining right now for the political wisdom of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as a cure for the primary voters’ inappropriate choices.

Election Day is December 12, and Jones is favored to win. Leaning Democratic takeover.

Senate 2020

Minnesota: Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., continues to cling to a Senate seat he probably cannot hold much longer. Donald Trump demonstrated in 2016 that Minnesota is going from Blue to Purple, nearly carrying a state that even Ronald Reagan’s 1984 campaign couldn’t crack.

At the very same time, Franken is demonstrating that it’s a lot easier to denounce sexual harassment and assault than it is to renounce it. Given his abject hypocrisy on this topic, it’s impossible to imagine him going on at all, let alone in the outsized role of party fundraiser and mascot that he had taken on.

Franken is extremely popular among his colleagues, and in fact already his downfall has forced him to cancel fundraisers for some of them. Not only has the former comedian been a great draw in person, but emails that go out under his name have performed exceptionally well. Democrats have lost a powerful weapon, and may well have to defend an open Senate seat soon in a Rust Belt state where victory probably won’t come as easily as it once did.