Politics

Alabama GOP Senate Favorite Floats McConnell Ouster

Outsider Roy Moore knocks Republican leader over campaign tactics, lack of results on conservative agenda

Outsider Roy Moore, who is favored to knock off Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.) in this month’s Republican primary runoff, suggested Friday that Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) should be replaced as majority leader.

In an interview with LifeZette, Moore objected both to McConnell’s lack of results in passing President Donald Trump’s agenda and his attempts to prop up Strange.

“I wouldn’t necessarily think he would be a majority leader I would support,” he said. “But, you know, I can work with anybody. I’m not a person who doesn’t forgive. But, you know, you don’t get over these things easily.”

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McConnell’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Alabama Republicans will pick their nominee on Sept. 26 for the state vacated by Jeff Sessions, who became President Donald Trump’s attorney general. Strange, appointed to the seat by former Gov. Robert Bentley, finished second in the first round of balloting last month. Moore, a former state Supreme Court chief justice and popular figure on the religious Right, came in first.

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The Senate Leadership Fund, a political action committee closely aligned with McConnell, dumped more than $2 million into the primary during the first round. Much of that went into attack ads targeting Moore and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), who finished third.

“I think the Establishment under McConnell is doing business the same way they did before. They don’t want change. They want to keep the same system going that they had before.”

“It has a lot to do with the kind of campaign ads they’ve run and the kind of campaign they’re running; yes, it does,” Moore said. “If you can’t run on your credentials, if you take after the other candidate with false and deceptive advertising, then what does that say about ethics? What does that say about your ethical standards? And I think that’s what’s lacking in Washington.”

Moore made it clear, however, that his differences with McConnell extend beyond campaign tactics. He noted that Trump’s legislative agenda has stalled.

“A lot is in leadership,” he said. “Yes, I think you could get different results. The people of Alabama, the people of America in November of 2016, signaled they wanted a change in the way Washington does business. And I think the Establishment under McConnell is doing business the same way they did before. They don’t want change. They want to keep the same system going that they had before.”

Moore backs Trump’s call to eliminate the filibuster rule that requires a 60-vote supermajority to pass most legislation — a move McConnell has resisted. Moore said he believes it is not just unwise but unconstitutional.

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“You don’t change the Constitution by legislative fiat,” he said. “You change it by a vote of the people. If the people want to do that, that’s fine. That’s constitutional. But you don’t change it because you feel this way or that way. The problem is not the rule, itself, but the way the political parties are acting.”

Eric Ostermeier, a research fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, said he would not doubt Moore’s sincerity.

“He is not one who normally backs down from what he says,” said Ostermeier, author of a politics blog, Smart Politics.

At the same time. Ostermeier said, there probably are not a lot of Republican senators who are eager to challenge McConnell for majority leader and inherit the difficulties of managing a narrow majority with a demanding president applying pressure from the other side of Pennsylvania Avenue.

“I don’t think this will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back as far as his hold over his caucus,” he said.

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