When the race for the open Jeff Sessions seat began, it appeared to be a Roy Moore versus Luther Strange contest. Well, folks, that’s how it ended last Tuesday. We’ve got a runoff between our Ten Commandments Judge, Roy Moore and Big Luther Strange.
Roy Moore has been around Alabama politics for a while now. Alabamians know who he is and what he stands for. He has been standing up for Fundamentalist Christian values since his days as an Etowah County Judge where he displayed his initial wooden Ten Commandments plaque on the walls of his courtroom. He became so famous for his stand that he rode that notoriety to being elected Chief Justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court.
Alabama is undoubtedly one of, if not the most, fundamentalist Bible-believing states in America. Most of the hard-core fundamentalist Moore followers put more credence in the Old Testament than the New Testament. Therefore, Moore’s emphasis on the Ten Commandments resonated then and still does today.
Judge Roy Moore became emboldened when he became Chief Justice. In the dark of night, he had a 5,000-pound monument placed in the Supreme Court building’s rotunda. A federal court asked him to remove it. He refused and they removed him.
It made him a martyr among the brethren. He ran twice for governor but failed to make the runoff each time. It appeared to be a chink in his armor. It became obvious to those of us who follow Alabama politics that voters thought highly of him as a judge but for some reason did not see him as a governor.
This became clearly apparent when five years ago he disposed of two well-financed opponents in a race for his old post as Chief Justice. He won handily even though he was outspent 3-to-1. Folks in Alabama like Moore as a judge. However, it appears that they may like him as a U.S. Senator.
If you think he was thought of as a martyr for being removed from the bench for standing up for his Ten Commandments monument, folks in Alabama really resented some vague judicial inquiry commission asking him to leave his seat as Chief Justice for telling probate judges in the state to stop marrying gay people. In the “Heart of Dixie” you cannot ask for a better entree into a governor’s race or senate race.
Early polling showed Moore was so far out front in the governor’s race that he would have beaten the current field without a runoff. This judicial inquiry group coronated Moore and made him a folk hero. Ole George Wallace would have loved to have been dealt these cards. I can just hear him now, “Well I’ll tell you right now if two homosexual people want to get married in Alabama I’ll be the first one to stand in the courthouse door and stop ‘em. I’ll even get them a one-way bus ticket to California where they can just stay, and I’ll tell you this too, if one of those transgenders protests in front of my car they may as well get ready to get run over. And if y’all send me to Washington, I’ll ask for a seat next to the left wing socialist wackos, Bernie Sanders and ‘Pocahontas’ [Elizabeth] Warren, and I’ll ask them what bathroom they think the transgenders should go to. Then I’ll introduce a resolution requiring all transgenders be sent to California to live with those communist sympathizing, left wing movie stars and appear on the Stephen Colbert and Bill Maher shows.”
Wallace would have had a field day. Wallace was a master politician; some would say a demagogue. Moore was dealt this hand. He is not the politician that George Wallace was. He actually is a true believer. He is not a demagogue. He has put his money where his mouth is. He lost his job not once but twice over his beliefs. Believe me, George Wallace would not have left his job as governor if they told him he was going to be sent back to Barbour County if he did not get out of that school house door.
Folks in Alabama feel like Moore was done wrong and they set out to right that wrong. They were going to elect Moore governor next year. However, they rather have him as their Senator.
As expected Moore led the field last week. Next week we will analyze the race and runoff and how his opponent, Big Luther Strange, stacks up against Moore.
See you next week.
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.