Judge Roy Moore’s Tuesday landslide victory came despite a supremely well-funded Luther Strange campaign that was quick to resort to dishonest attacks.
Right up until polls closed, Strange allies, especially Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) “Senate Leadership Fund (SLF)” PAC, were pumping out misleading and negative material about Republican nominee Roy Moore and his supporters.
SLF dumped millions of dollars behind appointed incumbent Strange, more than most estimates of Roy Moore’s total campaign budget. With polls still open Tuesday afternoon, the SLF issued a release personally attacking Breitbart News Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon over his role in Moore’s apparent victory.
McConnell-backed Senate Leadership Fund hits back at Steve Bannon personally, noting he hadn't left WH when Trump backed Strange. pic.twitter.com/RJQJf0kJud
— Alex Seitz-Wald (@aseitzwald) September 26, 2017
The terse and angry SLF release claims that because Bannon was still serving in the White House when President Donald Trump endorsed Strange, his call for a “review” of that decision must indicate his powerlessness within the administration.
The Bannon release was in keeping with a tradition of misdirection seen in pro-Strange election content as the campaign turned against the establishment-picked incumbent. A September SLF ad portrayed Moore, a staunch supporter of the Trump immigration agenda and proponent of the wall on the southern border, as “dead wrong on President Trump’s wall to protect our borders.” Even left-leaning Politifact found the ad “mostly false” in their assessment, given that it took remarks of Moore’s wildly out of context to show Moore as anti-wall.
An even greater level of deception was shown in the Moore campaign’s own “Willie Horton-esque” last-minute ploy to imply then-Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore ruled in favor of pedophiles and put children at risk due to a technical ruling in a sex-crime case that had zero effect on the convict’s prison sentence. In a move that would shock many an Alabama criminal defense attorney, the same ad inexplicably referred to the intensely tough-on-crime Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, with which Moore agreed in his dissenting Alabama Supreme Court opinion, as a “liberal court.”
The same pattern was clear before the Alabama race even entered the run-off phase. In the first round, Strange tried to label arch-conservative Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) as “never Trump.” Brooks was eliminated, leading to the run-off between Strange and Moore.
In the run-off, none of these attacks shifted the winds of popular Alabama opinion against Moore. Moore held a consistent lead over Strange throughout the run-off campaign and appears to have brought that lead home Tuesday. Moore will be the heavy favorite against his Democratic general election opponent this November.