The Republican establishment has unleashed a hurricane of political cash in its efforts to defeat Judge Roy Moore’s populist campaign to win the Republican nomination for the Senate seat formerly held by Jeff Sessions.
The downpour began just a few weeks after Roy Moore came in ahead of establishment-backed Luther Strange in the August Republican primary. The Senate Leadership Fund, a political action committee affiliated with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, spent over $1.6 million in the final days of August to oppose Moore, according to the fund’s filings with the Federal Election Commission.
Since then, McConnell’s PAC has been joined by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a PAC affiliated with the National Rifle Association. In total, these three groups have spent $4.7 million on the run-off election between Moore and Strange between August 29 and September 18, according to FEC data.
That means the Republican establishment is spending almost $235,000 per day in the Alabama fight.
“Mitch McConnell and Luther Strange and Karl Rove have an agenda and that is to Alabamians who they should elect for the United States Senate, but I can tell them one thing: Get this right. Alabamians aren’t listening to you, because Alabamians are going to vote for one of their own, Roy Moore, a proven fighter who time and time again has stood for what Alabamians believe in and has not backed down,” Bill Armistead, the former Alabama GOP chairman now serving as the chairman of the Moore campaign, said at a press conference last week in Homewood, Alabama, just outside Birmingham. “That’s what Alabamians want.”
Armistead said the millions of dollars pouring into Alabama amount to an “economy boost,” but are not serving their intended political purpose as all the recent polls have Moore towering over Strange despite Strange’s backing from President Donald Trump and all these ads.
“Luther Strange is a longtime lobbyist up in Washington. He’s been in the swamp, Luther Strange has been, for years for Mitch McConnell,” Armistead said. “We know what’s going on up there. They’re desperate to buy this election with the millions of dollars that they’re spending and sending down to Alabama. I guess it helps the economy though, so thank you for the economy boost. I’ll tell you what: It’s not working.”
The Senate Leadership Fund has spent nearly $3 million, according to FEC data. The National Rifle Association’s Victory Fund has spent $918,000. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s spending amounted to $783,525.
At the press conference last week in Homewood, Armistead specifically singled out the highly problematic organization Senate Leadership Fund.
“I want to talk a little bit about Senate Leadership Fund,” he said. “That organization is supposed to be there to help elect Republicans to the United States Senate. But on their website they say their purpose is to do what they can to increase and expand their majorities so that Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders and those folks don’t take over the Senate. Well, how’s that working out for them? Well, looking at the Senate Leadership Fund report as of Sept. 6, they’ve spent a couple million since then against us, let me tell you what the numbers show. So far, through Sept. 6, Senate Leadership Fund has spent $2.5 million to defeat Roy Moore. They spent $1.5 million trying to defeat Mo Brooks. And they have spent just $50,500 trying to defeat Democrats. They spent $30,500 to oppose Claire McCaskill, Democrat from Missouri, and $20,000 to oppose Joe Manchin over in West Virginia. So that’s about $50,000 as opposed to $7 or $8 million that we know of right now against Republicans. So how is that the Senate Leadership Fund, run by Mitch McConnell’s former chief of staff, is trying to elect more Republicans to the United States Senate? It doesn’t add up, folks. We know what’s going on. This is all about the insiders club. They want to control everything themselves. But it’s not going to work.”
The spending by outside groups will go even higher in the final week before the run-off election. A group known as American First Priorities has said it will spend around $500,000 to support Strange.
Strange himself has spent around $4.7 million for the campaign, according to FEC data through September 8. That includes money spent on the pre-runoff primary election.
Strange still trails Moore in the polls, raising the prospect that this could become another in a series of expensive losses for the Republican establishment. The Republican establishment spent hundreds of millions in 2015 and 2016 only to be defeated by the populist candidacy of Donald Trump.
Interestingly, Armistead added at the press conference, McConnell and his powerful network in Washington threatened any consultants that they would be “blackballed” if they did any work for anyone in this race other than Strange.
“Mitch McConnell, at the very beginning of this campaign, issued an ultimatum to those political consultants who want to work in this campaign,” Armistead said. “He said you know what, if you work for anybody other than Luther Strange, we’ll blackball you and you’re never going to work for us again. Can you imagine that? In today’s world, Mitch McConnell would tell political consultants that they’re going to get blackballed if they work for anybody else but Luther Strange. That’s a sad commentary of what we’re going through today. But we’re going to have the last say in all this. We talk about all the money that’s coming in here. Whether it’s $10 million or $12 million or $14 million, it’s the biggest scam ever in the history of Alabama to see Mitch McConnell’s Senate Leadership Fund and Karl Rove and you go on and on and on—all those Washington insiders, they want one of their own in the United States Senate. But I can tell you Roy Moore is not one of their own and that’s why they don’t want him up.”
But it looks like it will not have ended up working in the end, assuming the final polls showing a widening lead are right and Moore is poised for a big win on Tuesday.
Breitbart News’ John Carney reported from New York City. Breitbart News’ Matthew Boyle reported from Homewood, Alabama.