By Glynn Wilson –
WASHINGTON, D.C. — As we have been predicting all along, the pro-business chamber of commerce Republicans have now come out of the closet and said publicly that they will not support former judge Roy Moore in his bid to replace Jeff Sessions and Luther Strange in the United States Senate.
The pro-big business Newhouse news outlet in Alabama, al dot com, formerly known as the Birmingham News, Mobile Press-Register and Huntsville Times newspapers, is now reporting that a senior political strategist with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has written a letter openly declaring that it will not help Moore in his campaign. It does not say the business community will now throw it’s support to the viable Democrat in the race, attorney Doug Jones of Birmingham. But what choice do they have now other than to sit out the race?
Scott Reed of the U.S. chamber said the group plans to “spend the next 60 days working on job growth initiatives and tax reform.”
”We have a process for non-incumbent races and plan to follow it in Alabama,” Reed said in an email. “A candidates’ stated priorities and positions on economic issues have great weight with the U.S.C.C. and the Alabama business community.”
The chamber, along with the Business Council of Alabama, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and others backed Luther Strange for reelection. But even with $10 million in the bank to spend on television ads, Strange came out the loser to Moore in the Republican primary runoff on Sept. 27.
“The Alabama trial lawyers and the 85 percent of eligible Alabama voters that did not vote gave us Roy Moore,” Reed said.
It’s true to some extent that big money trial lawyers such as Jere Beasley supported Roy Moore’s bid for the state Supreme Court, since he is not a pro-tort reform Republican. But it is not clear they had much to do with Moore’s Senate primary runoff victory. His support is mostly from far right conservative Republicans, including many Baptists, who no longer believe in the separation of church and state, as well as alt-right nationalists such as Steve Bannon.
The Business Council’s Bill Canary, who recently lost the support of Alabama Power, a powerful pro-business development company, also criticized low voter turnout, calling Moore’s win “not a rebellion, but a surrender.”
The Senate Leadership Fund, which spent about $5 million to support Strange’s campaign, said it was staying out of the race too. There’s no word on where Alabama Power stands.
Responding to the story in an email blast, the Doug Jones campaign issued a statement on the news.
“I agree with these pro-business organizations that Roy Moore is bad for business in Alabama,” Jones said. “And when you’re bad for business it’s also bad for the working men and women in the state. I look forward to working with businesses groups and all Alabamians looking to create jobs and further economic development in our state.”
In another email message to supporters, Jones is reporting that he is gaining strong grassroots support from people in the state, raising about $1.3 million in the third fundraising quarter and now has $1 million cash on hand.
“More than 22,000 people have lent their financial support to Doug’s campaign since he entered the race, and more 3,500 people have signed up to volunteer their time and energy,” the Jones campaign says.
“These fundraising numbers are the latest proof that our campaign is continuing to gain incredible momentum with grassroots support from throughout the state of Alabama,” campaign communications director Sebastian Kitchen said. “Alabamians know that Doug cares about kitchen table issues that are important to them and know he will stand up for hardworking families in the Senate.”
Some polls of questionable validity are showing Moore leading Jones by a margin of 6 to 8 percentage points. But the Jones campaign is not buying into it, just as they ignored the polls in the primary and ended up winning with 65 percent of the Democratic vote.
With the business community pulling out the race on behalf of Moore, and the independents and some Republicans declaring they will vote for Jones, chances are this race is now close, within the margin of error, and Jones still has a good chance to win a historic election — if enough people turn out to vote, especially women, African Americans and urban progressive Democrats and young voters, who have a spotty record in recent elections.
Jones recently got the endorsement of the League of Conservation Voters and the Human Rights Campaign.
They key question here is: Can Jones use the money he’s raising to fire up these voters to show up on election day December 12? Is he saying the things they want to hear with enough fervor to get them to show up, while at the same time not saying anything to fire up President Donald Trump’s conservative base against him?
© 2017, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.