Can Doug Jones Upset Far-Right Extremist Roy Moore In The Alabama Senate Race?

Madison County (AL) Democratic Chairman Tom Ryan weighs in on the upcoming Alabama U.S. Senate Election

Alabama Senate Candidate Roy Moore brandishes a firearm at a campaign rally in Fairhope, Alabama

Alabama Senate Candidate Roy Moore brandishes a firearm at a campaign rally in Fairhope, Alabama

Update (11/9/2017): A Washington Post report claims that Roy Moore initiated a sexual relationship with a 14-year old in 1979, when he was 32. Prominent Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Arizona Senator John McCain, have called on Moore to drop out of the race if the allegations are true.

Most experts agree that Democratic nominee Doug Jones faces an uphill battle in his race against Republican Roy Moore to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in February.

The election will take place on Tuesday, December 12, for the seat currently held by Luther Strange, who was defeated by Moore in the Republican primary runoff election on September 27.

National Democrats have not committed to pouring money into the race, but Jones, a Civil Rights attorney, raised $1.3 million in the last fundraising quarter from July to September.

Tom Ryan is the Madison County (AL) Democratic Chairman. Within Madison County is Huntsville, the third biggest city in Alabama, an important epicenter for voter turnout efforts in the state.

Ryan believes Moore’s history of actions and statements that violate the rule of law will turn off moderate voters. He says Jones has a legitimate chance of winning, despite being the underdog.

Moore, the former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, was suspended from the court in 2016 for defying a U.S. Supreme Court ruling by refusing to grant marriage licenses to LGBTQ couples. It was the second time Moore was suspended from the court.

Moore has previously stated that Muslims should not be allowed to serve in Congress, homosexuality should be illegal, and that 9/11 was punishment for America’s sins.

On the eve of September’s Republican primary election, Moore brandished a firearm during a campaign rally to show support for the Second Amendment.

Despite Moore’s history of unconstitutional behavior, he has been formally endorsed by Republican Senators Rand Paul and Mike Lee.

The most recent Alabama special election poll conducted by Fox News shows Jones and Moore tied at 42 percent.

Read my Monday, October 2 interview with Tom Ryan below. It is lightly edited for clarity.

MR: What are your thoughts on Roy Moore being the Republican nominee?

Ryan: We probably couldn’t have asked for a better opponent because he is way off to the right-wing fringe. Many of his positions and statements are not only irreconcilable with one another, but they are just flat out kooky. He is definitely not in the mainstream of Republicans not even in Alabama, which is a very deep red state. He’s kooky.

MR: A lot of national pundits have already dismissed Jones’ chances, but the last poll showed him only eight points down. Do you think Jones could actually pull this off?

Ryan: I do. He’s got an excellent chance to be the first Democratic senator from Alabama in more than twenty years.

MR: Is there any chance that Jones can win moderate Republicans? Are there any moderate Republicans left in Alabama?

Ryan: There aren’t any moderate Republicans left in America, in my opinion. There are some people who call themselves Republicans, but they are basically business types. Those people I don’t think will vote for Moore. They will either stay home or they will vote for Doug Jones.

“Many people who have been spectators or not involved at all in politics have decided they better get involved or things are going to spin away from us before we can put a stop to them.”

MR: What are you doing to get out the vote in your county? And what do you think turnout needs to look like in the cities for Jones to have a chance?

Ryan: Turnout needs to be pretty good on the Democratic side and pretty low on the Republican side. We are doing a lot up here to organize and harness the energy that we have seen since the election of Mr. Trump as president. Many people who have been spectators or not involved at all in politics have decided they better get involved or things are going to spin away from us before we can put a stop to them. So we’ve got a lot of energy. We are harnessing that. We are doing a lot of canvassing and a lot of voter registration. We are trying to raise the consciousness about the election because it is right in the middle of the holiday season, about two weeks after Thanksgiving and two weeks before Christmas. People are going to be deep in holiday mode when this election comes around on December 12.

“If he can’t do the job because he won’t follow the rules — why should people vote for him for senator?”

MR: Donald Trump won the presidential race by nearly 30% in Alabama. Generally, what do you think Democrats need to do in the state moving forward to improve their standing?

Ryan: We need to let people know that we do have Democrats in the state. Many times people come out of their borough and look around and say, “well, I don’t see any other Democrats here so I’ll go back in my borough,” and they mistakenly conclude that there are no other Democrats. There is a larger Democratic presence in the state than people think. There is a lot more people who are more middle of the road and don’t ascribe to the far right wing ideology of a lot of Republicans in this state and across the nation. They are looking for a change.

The last three presidential elections were change elections. Obama the first two times and Trump the last time. I think people wrongly concluded that Hillary was the status quo candidate and Trump was the change candidate, and so they decided to vote for Trump. Now I have had several people who voted for him ask me if they can have a do-over. They want to take their vote back and start over. They know they can’t do that with him now, but they can do something about other Republicans who are running for office at this time starting with Roy Moore.

For one thing, he was elected Chief Justice twice by the citizens of Alabama. A few years ago he didn’t fare so well when he ran for governor and the last time he ran for Chief Justice he won by a very small margin. Anybody who is going to call themselves the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of Alabama should certainly be a role model for honoring and following the rule of law and Roy Moore violated that trust and that obligation not once, but twice, and he was removed from office both times for that. If he can’t do the job because he won’t follow the rules — why should people vote for him for senator?

MR: What’s your prediction for December 12?

Ryan: I think Doug Jones has an excellent opportunity to be the next Democratic Senator from Alabama and we are working very hard to make that happen.

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