Alabama’s disdain for Democrats looms over his Senate career –

Alabama’s disdain for Democrats looms over his Senate career


TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Anne Stickney does not have many good things to say about Roy S. Moore. She saw it as a mere "stance" of her name-making crusade on the display of the Ten Commandments in various Alabama courts. He has no reason to doubt recent allegations that, as a man in his 30s, Mr. Moore harbaded and badually badaulted teenagers. In summary, Ms. Stickney has come to the conclusion that Mr. Moore, the Republican candidate for the United States Senate here, will not get his vote.

But he will not vote for his Democratic opponent in the Senate elections on December 12. neither.

"Doug Jones has a good reputation for being a good man," said Ms. Stickney, 63. "But he is still a democrat."

Instead, he plans to write in Lee Busby, a retired Republican Navy colonel, who is conducting a last-minute campaign.

The result of the Senate race here is still a mystery, and a victory for Mr. Jones would not be the first unexpected turn. But old habits are difficult in Alabama, and veterans of Southern politics find it hard to imagine that even this election, one of the most unpredictable in the state's recent memory, would eventually move away from the old foundations.

"I do not think the Lord Jesus can win as a Democrat in Alabama," said Brad Chism, who runs a Democratic communications firm in Mississippi that has surveyed female voters in Alabama in recent weeks. "They're waiting for the Republican Party to tell them how they're going to fix this."

Mr. Moore was never very popular in Alabama, even among Republicans; his enthusiastic fan base has been enough in some past elections, and in others, his two poor appearances in Republican primaries for governor, has been quite insufficient. The aversion to Mr. Moore has only become more pronounced with the outbreak of accusations of badual misconduct, including one that badually abused a 14-year-old girl, allegations that Mr. Moore denies.

But disliked by Mr. Moore, while it may lead people to write under other names or just stay at home, for many it is still not a good enough reason to vote for a Democrat. And here in Alabama, one of the most inflexible partisan states in the country, where genuine voters are few and politics is approached with the same kind of unwavering loyalty as college football, this is the central problem with Mr. Jones. He has been back in recent polls after a spasm of optimism that could bring about a surprising surprise in a state where Democrats have not won a great state career since 2006.

Alabama Republicans who are looking for an alternative to Moore are rejected by the Democrats for a constellation of issues: Supreme Court nominations, the scope of federal regulation, the fact that a Democrat would likely hamper President Trump's agenda and the general sense that the Democratic national brand is in conflict. with the white southern culture. It is the obstacle most commonly posed by voters, from the university city of Tuscaloosa to suburban Birmingham and Mr. Moore's home county in northeastern Alabama, to Mr. Jones' position on abortion.

"The most important thing to me is that it's pro Opportunity," said Susan Moore, a retired respiratory therapist who said she had been unhappy with Mr. Moore (who has no relationship) for years, frustrated by his breach. When she was a judge, she said she admired Mr. Jones's prosecution of members of the Ku Klux Klan who helped plan the 1963 attack on 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. in the Senate, she said: "I think it's too liberal for our state."

In a September appearance on MSNBC, Mr. Jones explained that he was not "in favor of anything". Many Alabama Democrats did A grimace.

Nearly 60 percent of adults in Alabama believe that abortion should be illegal in most or all cases, tied for third among the highest in any state, according to the Center. of Pew Research. next year, Alabama voters will consider a proposed constitutional amendment, already approved by lawmakers, that would "convert this state's public policy to recognize and support the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children, including the right to life. "

It is easy to see why Mr. Jones later clarified that he did not seek changes to the current law, and why Mr. Moore and the conservatives of Alabama have tried to fan the Twitter hashtag #AbortionJones.

John D. Saxon, a lawyer from Alabama and a decades-old stalwart of Democratic politics, said he had recently gone shopping for Christmas when a man he did not know approached him in a parking lot, the man had a message for Mr. Jones.

A supporter of Roy Moore, the Republican candidate for the Senate, waited on November 27 for a campaign rally to begin in Henagar, Ala. Credit Joe Buglewicz / Getty Images

"Le they say that if he changes his position on abortion, I can get all the Republican votes he will need, "said the man, according to Mr. Saxon.

A name that comes often is John Bel Edwards, who in 2015 defeated David Vitter, a repub Licanus, in the Louisiana governor's race to become one of only two Democrats to hold state offices in the Deep South.

Had Mr. Edwards supported the right to abortion, "Vitter would have won that race, I have no doubts in my mind," said Jared Arsement, campaign media consultant for Mr. Edwards.

During that campaign, Mr. Arsement helped create an announcement in which Mr. Edwards and his wife talked about how they were against a doctor's recommendation to obtain an abortion and the inmate had a daughter with spina bifida. Mr. Arsement said the notice removed one of the largest Republican attack points from the table.

"If Roy Moore wins," he said, "it will only be because of Doug Jones' position on abortion." [19659002] But many in Alabama are not so sure. Given the partisan mold of the state and the narrow Republican margin in the Senate, they say, even an unconditionally anti-abortion democrat could face great difficulties.

"I think abortion plays an important role," said Jack Campbell, a Republican campaign consultant who does not like Mr. Moore. "But for me, most people who are anti-Doug Jones just say:" Well, he's a Democrat and part of being a Democrat, usually, you're pro-choice. " (Like Ms. Stickney and Ms. Moore, Mr. Campbell supports Mr. Busby.)

Mr. Saxon, the veteran democrat, had similar thoughts.

"It may be that abortion is an abbreviation of a lot of liberal-democratic issues that someone would identify with Chuck Schumer," he said, referring to the minority leader of the Senate. [19659002ElabortoesunodelospocosproblemasqueprovocóquelagentecambiedepartidoenlosúltimosañosdijoClydeWilcoxprofesordegobiernodelaUniversidaddeGeorgetownquehaestudiadolapolíticadelabortoSinembargodijoqueelprocesodeclasificacióndelpartidosehacumplidoylasposturashaciaelabortosoncasisinónimodeidentificaciónpartidaria

"We have become so tribal to our policy, we want our tribe dominate Congress for all kinds of reasons," Professor Wilcox said. "Of all these issues, the one that is easiest to say, but also perhaps the most intense, would be abortion." If an anti-abortion Democrat showed up at the Alabama race, Professor Wilcox said: "I think most people who say 'abortion' would simply say something else."

Unhappiness about the choice in This race is real, and the reluctance among Republicans to vote for Mr. Moore is widespread. Written vows for Mr. Busby and other figures could influence the race, but Democratic and Republican pollsters said it was difficult to predict its overall impact.

The question among Mr. Jones's sponsors, given the significant Republican advantage in the state, is whether enough of those discouraged Republican voters are willing to break their partisan habit, even if only this time.

The Senate contest is essentially a "mathematical problem" that could be resolved through a series of strategies, including working to ensure black participation, said Mayor Walt Maddox of Tuscaloosa, a Democrat running for governor. But, he said: "No. 1 is convincing independent voters that they shadow Republicans that Doug Jones is the best option for our state."

Among those independent voters with Republican shading is Matthew S. Metcalfe, a retired insurance executive in Mobile, who said of Mr. Moore: "Religion should be a personal matter, not a political one," Mr. Metcalfe said. , that is not animated in the polls by the debates on the abortion. He thinks of Mr. Jones "as a man and what he has done, as pristine".

In spite of all that, he said, a vote for Mr. Jones would be a vote in favor of Mr. Schumer's approach and the Democrats to regulation, their aspirations for the courts and their attitudes about the appropriate size of government , to which he is opposed. Then, when Mr. Metcalfe filled out his absentee ballot, as a matter of principle, he did not check a box next to the name of any of the Senate candidates.

But he did mark the one of a direct republican ballot, so his vote will count for Mr. Moore the same.

Correction :

Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this article misspelled the last name of the head of a Democratic communications company in Mississippi. He is Brad Chism, not Chim.

Alan Blinder and Jess Bidgood reported Tuscaloosa, and Campbell Robertson of Pittsburgh.

A version of this article appears printed in on page A 10 of the New York edition with the headline: In Deep-Red Alabama, Little Gray Area for Voters . Reprints of orders | Today's paper | Subscribe
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