Former Judge Roy Moore will reportedly announce whether he’ll run again for Senate on Thursday, after losing his race in 2017 and subsequently the high-profile support of President Donald Trump and Alabama Republican congressmen.
The timing of the announcement was first reported by Politico.
In 2017, Moore won the GOP nomination for a special election despite the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, spending millions of dollars against him and instead favoring then-Sen. Luther Strange, who had been appointed to fill former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ seat. During the general election, the National Republican Senatorial Committee cut ties with Moore’s campaign and the committee’s then-chairman, Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, pledged to never support Moore again following accusations that he sexually abused teenagers decades ago.
Moore lost to Doug Jones, a Democrat and former US attorney, by less than 2 points in a state that Trump won by 27.
The Senate Republicans’ official campaign organization views a Moore candidacy as the only thing that can come between them and the seat, their best pickup opportunity in the country. A number of Alabama Republicans, including Rep. Bradley Byrne, former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville and state Rep. Arnold Mooney have already announced their campaigns. Secretary of State John Merrill will soon announce his plans.
“I don’t think he’ll be the nominee,” Sen. Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican, told CNN in May regarding Moore.
Moore has long been a controversial figure in the state. He was twice elected as Alabama chief justice but was removed both times, for installing a giant statue of the Ten Commandments in the state judicial building and then for ordering lower court judges to refuse to marry same-sex couples. But after winning the Senate Republican primary, he earned the endorsement of Trump and the Alabama Republicans in the House.
He’s lost that support. Trump tweeted last month that Moore “cannot win” and the consequences of another loss would be “devastating.”
“I have NOTHING against Roy Moore, and unlike many other Republican leaders, wanted him to win,” tweeted Trump. “But he didn’t, and probably won’t.”
The Senate Conservatives Fund, which has clashed with McConnell in the past, has said it would support Mooney, who is also the choice of Rep. Mo Brooks.
In May, Rep. Mike Rogers told CNN that Byrne is “probably the leading candidate,” pointing to his strong fundraising. Rogers added that Moore has a “militant following” but his voting bloc “is not going to be enough to get him the nomination.”
“I strongly believe after going through the experience in 2017 that we need a better nominee,” said Byrne in an interview. “We need somebody that can defeat Doug Jones and somebody that we can all feel good about voting for.”
But several Alabama Republicans in the House said they’d support Moore if he becomes the nominee again. Byrne said he’s “a party guy” and would support whichever Republican wins the race. Brooks said he’d “absolutely” vote for the Republican nominee.
“On Supreme Court confirmations and border security, any Republican nominee will be better than the incumbent Democrat, who does not like conservatives on the bench and does not like border security,” said Brooks.
And Rogers quipped that “no matter who it is or how bad they are,” he’d support the Republican in the race against Jones, criticizing the senator for voting against Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court and his positions on abortion and guns.
“He’s not a good fit for Alabama,” said Rogers.