Wed12132017

Last updateWed, 13 Dec 2017 8am

Politics

Alabama Could Elect a Democrat to the U.S. Senate

Alabama Could Elect Democrat SenatorAmid multiple sexual abuse allegations against Republican candidate, Roy Moore, the possibility of Alabama electing its first Democrat to serve in the U.S. Senate, since 1979, is becoming more likely.

Because now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions left his seat in the U.S. Senate vacant to serve in President Trump’s cabinet, the state of Alabama is holding a special election on Dec. 12 in order to succeed the incumbent interim-Senator Luther Strange, who had been appointed by former Alabama governor, Robert Bentley, to temporarily replace Sessions.

The Alabama primary elections were held on Sept. 27, resulting in the nomination of Democratic candidate, Doug Jones, to face Republican Moore in the general election.

Moore is a former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court and has been twice removed by the Alabama Court of the Judiciary for refusing to follow federal court orders. He beat his opponent in the Republican primary, Luther Strange, by nearly 50,000 votes and had been the likely candidate amongst Alabama voters—until sexual assault allegations surfaced against Moore on Nov. 9.

Much controversy already surrounded Moore before the allegations surfaced, though. In 2005, in an interview with Bill Press from CSPAN2’s After Words, Moore said that “homosexual acts” should be illegal. He made similar comments in 2015, in a video posted to YouTube by Lone Star Q, saying “I think homosexuality should be illegal…there [is] no right under the Constitution to enlarge the fundamental rights of homosexuals.”

Following the accusations of sexual misconduct, many Republicans have shied away from announcing their support of Moore. Among them, Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts and Republican 2012 presidential candidate, who tweeted on Nov. 11, “Innocent until proven guilty is for criminal convictions, not elections…Moore is unfit for office and should step aside.”

 

These allegations have affected Moore where it counts the most, though: amongst the voters.

Alexis Borrino, a sophomore education student, believes Moore should end his campaign because he’s “not a good option.” Borrino also said that the negative news coverage of the accusations levied against Moore are bad publicity for the state of Alabama. “Considering the fact that he was accused of sexual misconduct should be a giant red flag,” Borrino said. “Roy Moore doesn’t deserve to serve in the United States Senate.”

According to both a CNN and Fox News poll, Jones leads Moore by eight points, with 50 percent of likely-voters voting for the Democratic candidate and 42 percent for the Republican. Additionally, according to FiveThirtyEight, “an average of Alabama polls conducted over the past week…gives Jones a 47 percent to 43.5 percent lead.”

If the polls are accurate, Jones would become the first Democrat to represent Alabama in the U.S. Senate since Howell Heflin, who served from 1979-1997. Jones has positioned himself on a campaign of what he calls “’kitchen table’ issues,” focusing on healthcare and the economy. 

“We are at a point in this state that we can either go forward or backward,” Jones said at a rally in Mobile, AL. “I’m not a perfect candidate or a perfect person, but I will tell you, what we represent is going forward in this state. Roy Moore represents a backward look. I’m tired of Alabama being an embarrassment around the country.”

In a survey run by Gallup News, Alabama was named as the most conservative state in the United States, and it has been reliably red in numerous elections. Consequently, the chances of the state electing a Democrat to any office is difficult to predict, even in spite of the allegations against Moore.

Abha Sood, Ph.D., a lecturer in the English Department, explained that she is uncertain how heavily the Alabama voters’ partisanship will weigh in on their judgment of Moore as a candidate. “Character is imperative in politics,” she said. “Voters must look at the candidate as holistically as possible, even if they have consistently voted for their favored party.”

Although Alabama’s electorate is predominantly dyed-in-the-wool conservatives, taking seriously the allegations against their favored candidate should be considered.

Jones calls the voters’ dilemma “unfortunate.” He said “…one of the problems in this state is people continue to put political party above what’s in the best interest of the state and what’s in the best interest of the country.”

However, Roxy Nicoletti, a sophomore biochemistry student, believes Moore will still win the election despite the controversial allegations. “Sadly, for a lot of voters, it doesn’t matter if the allegations are true or not,” she said. “Alabama voted for Donald Trump [despite similar allegations levied against him in 2016]. They’d rather elect a possible sexual predator than a definite Democrat,” Nicoletti said.

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