Horse race heads down the stretch

Cherokee County Herald - - VIEWPOINTS - By Steve Flow­ers

As the horse race for our open U.S. Se­nate seat heads down the stretch, let’s look at the lay of the land.

All in­di­ca­tions are that Roy Moore and Luther Strange are headed for a one-two fin­ish on Au­gust 15 and ul­ti­mately a runoff on Septem­ber 26. The win­ner of that match will be our ju­nior U. S. Se­na­tor for the next three years of the Jeff Ses­sions’ seat term.

The short win­dow for the cam­paign helps Moore and Strange. They both have name iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and have run sev­eral suc­cess­ful cam­paigns for sig­nif­i­cant statewide of­fices

Roy Moore has worked the ru­ral ar­eas of the state qui­etly with­out much money. Luther Strange has bought heavy TV time in the Birm­ing­ham me­dia mar­ket hop­ing to turnout up­scale sub­ur­ban Repub­li­cans.

A com­bi­na­tion of polls as we head around the curve and into the last leg of the race has Moore at 30, Strange at 24 and Brooks at 18.

The caveat to re­mem­ber is that turnout is crit­i­cal. Moore’s 30 per­cent will show up. There­fore, his fi­nal vote tally on Au­gust 15 could be higher than 30. A poll is a pic­ture of the en­tire elec­torate. The poll that ac­tu­ally counts is the poll on Au­gust 15 and it is com­prised of those that showed up to cast their bal­lot.

Con­gress­man Mo Brooks has the best chance to up­set one of the two fron­trun­ners. He rep­re­sents the vote rich Ten­nessee Val­ley in Congress. He is the only vi­able can­di­date from that neck of the woods. He is a mem­ber of the Right Wing Free­dom Cau­cus in Congress. If that ul­tra con­ser­va­tive group has a grass­roots fundrais­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion and they raise Mo some money, he could sur­prise and over­come Luther.

There are two de­scrip­tions I like to use when assess­ing a U.S. Se­na­tor and the script they seek as your se­na­tor. Se­na­tor Richard Shelby is the ul­ti­mate care­taker. He has proven to be the great­est U.S. Se­na­tor in Alabama his­tory. Over the past 30 years, he has brought home the ba­con. He has also voted con­ser­va­tively.

In fact, if you com­pare the vot­ing records of Shelby and Ses­sions they would be iden­ti­cal. How­ever, Jeff Ses­sions would be cat­e­go­rized as an ideo- logue. He was an ul­tra­con­ser­va­tive dur­ing his ten­ure in the Se­nate and was con­sid­ered one of the up­per bod­ies’ most arch right wing re­ac­tionar­ies. There­fore, would Roy Moore or Mo Brooks or Luther Strange be con­sid­ered a care­taker or an ide­o­logue?

Mo Brooks has al­ready proven to be an ide­o­logue as a Con­gress­man. There is no ques­tion but that Roy Moore would be the ul­ti­mate ide­o­logue. He would ar­rive in Wash­ing­ton and by na­tional stan­dards would be the car­i­ca­ture that the Demo­cratic Party would use as the poster boy that de­picts how far right the Repub­li­can Party is to­day. It would be Moore’s mis­sion to be per­ceived as the most ide­o­log­i­cally re­li­gious zealot on the scene. Alabama would be known for hav­ing the most re­li­gious right wing se­na­tor in the na­tion. The na­tional Democrats would use Roy Moore’s pic­ture in ev­ery ad in ev­ery Cal­i­for­nia race the same way Obama was used Alabama.

Luther Strange would be in the mold of Se­na­tor Richard Shelby as a care­taker. Shelby would men­tor Luther, who is more of a main­stream con­ser­va­tive.

Strange, Moore or Brooks would all vote con­ser­va­tively right down the line. They would have the iden­ti­cal vot­ing record as Jeff Ses­sions or Richard Shelby on all the lit­mus test GOP is­sues like abor­tion, im­mi­gra­tion, bal­anced bud­get, pro-mil­i­tary, pro-gun, pro-agri­cul­ture and most im­por­tantly the ap­point­ment and con­fir­ma­tion of con­ser­va­tive Supreme Court Jus­tices.

How­ever, with­out ques­tion, Luther Strange would be a much more ef­fec­tive U.S. Se­na­tor for Alabama than Roy Moore or Mo Brooks. He would be more of the type Se­na­tor that we have in Richard Shelby.

We have had some greats like Shelby, Lis­ter Hill, John Spark­man, and John Bankhead. Al­though Luther at 64 will not be able to make those ranks due to his age of ar­rival and the se­nior­ity sys­tem.

Alabama would be bet­ter served to have a con­ser­va­tive care­taker in Wash­ing­ton than a re­ac­tionary right wing ide­o­logue. How­ever, Alabami­ans may pre­fer hav­ing a mis­sion­ary in Wash­ing­ton rather than a vi­sion­ary — at least those who show up to vote on Au­gust 15.

Steve Flow­ers is Alabama’s lead­ing po­lit­i­cal colum­nist. His weekly col­umn ap­pears in over 60 Alabama news­pa­pers. He served 16 years in the state leg­is­la­ture. Steve may be reached at www.steve­flow­ers.us.

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