AUBURN, Ala. – On Monday, when President Trump finally backed Roy Moore for the Senate, Mac Watson raised his hands and lit his grill. Watson, the co-owner of a family patio supply store, was the first Republican to announce a campaign for the seat, when national Republicans said they wanted one.
He had taken a risk. They had not done it.
"So many people with & # 39; R & # 39; behind their name put a match before the principles, and that is unpleasant for me," said Watson, cutting pork and vegetables that he had just removed from an exhibition grill. "Trump is definitely one of them, he could have made a difference two months ago and he did not do anything."
For three dying weeks, since The Washington Post revealed that Moore had made unwanted advances toward teenage girls, Republican senators and conservative experts called for one in a candidate to rescue them. Six Alabamians stepped forward; retired Colonel Lee Busby, former assistant to White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, was the most important incumbent.
"I did not feel that any of the candidates offered by the parties represented the majority of us," Busby said in a web advertisement published on Tuesday.
Even before Trump and the Republican National Committee intervened to support Moore again, the written campaigns were falling short. In an echo of the 2016 campaign, when some center-right Republicans fought for an alternative to Trump, the majority of Republican voters have found reasons to return to the fold. Public polls, which have found everything from a single-digit lead for Moore to a one-digit lead for Democrat Doug Jones, find only a single-digit percentage of voters open to a written campaign.
"When I hand out the flyers, I hear everything from 'fine, thank you', and I see people throwing them in the trash, you're part of George's liberal conspiracy Soros, "said Watson.
"Just tell me if you get some of Soros' money," joked Watson's brother and business partner, Art.
Like the 2016 effort to find an alternative to Trump, Alabama's written hopes had begun. with dream candidates and they settled for much less. In the week after the Moore scandal, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested that Attorney General Jeff Sessions, "totally known and extremely popular in Alabama," told CEOs at a Wall Street roundtable. Journal, could win back to his old seat. Other Republicans suggested that Senator Luther Strange (R-Ala.), Who lost the September 26 primaries to Moore, could get voters to write it down.
In private surveys, both options quickly collapsed, and soon disappeared from the conversation. The strongest national backing for Busby came on November 28, when conservative anti-Trump expert Bill Kristol tweeted that Kelly "went out of his way to offer praise" for his former assistant.
"How big it would be if Busby The effort to write skyrockets and receives a ton of Republican votes in Alabama within two weeks," Kristol asked. "It would be the most encouraging thing that could be imagined in the short term in American politics."
But no Republican elected ever supported a specific candidate in writing. Senator Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.), Who said he would write on behalf of a "distinguished" Republican candidate, did so this week, but did not tell reporters whose name he wrote.
Moore's opponents made the most In a new television ad, Jones informs voters about Shelby's vote, and one narrator said Moore's "disturbing" behavior forced the senator's hand. In an interview, Busby said Shelby's decision, which gained considerable coverage in Alabama, would help his lunar campaign.
"If Richard C. Shelby votes for a deed, that says more succinctly than ever how underrepresented the majority of Alabama voters feel in this election," Busby said, adding that he would have voted to cut the taxes that the Senate approved last week.
Busby, however, is the only written candidate who still talks about winning the race. Ron Bishop, the official written candidate of the Libertarian Party, said he received a flurry of calls after the Moore scandal broke out and that a few days later, the calls were stopped.
"It's easy to get discouraged," Bishop said. "People have been indoctrinated to think that there are only two options."
Eulas Kirtdoll Sr., a written candidate who organized a forum on Tuesday night for his colleagues, said that all those who are not Moore, no- Jones' candidates have had trouble being heard.
"I'm not even sounding good in my area," Kirtdoll said. "I'm just being frank with you."
To get more attention, I was walking from Marion, where the forum would take place, to Montgomery as a tribute to murdered civil rights activist Jimmie Lee Jackson, with brief updates on Facebook.
"My goal was to walk 10 miles a day, and the first day I did eight," Kirtdoll said. "It's not bad, if you get eight out of 10 in a test, you get a B."
Busby, who was unlikely to attend the forum on Tuesday, had attracted a great deal of national attention; A poll by Emerson, who gave his name to voters, found that 5 percent of the people of Alabama were ready to write to him. But a source familiar with a call between Busby and potential donors said he made little progress. When asked about the call, Busby said "it did not ring," but that his offer would not depend on donors.
"Clearly, this is not a movement that depends on large sums of money or big players," he said.
One week before the election, the rest of the candidates in writing considered the race as a missed and ill-conceived opportunity. Watson, who supported Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) In the 2016 primaries, said he had totally lost confidence in his party. I had watched in horror when Cruz did a Fox News interview that got darker between the questions about the scandalized Democrats and the questions about Moore.
"In one minute and 20 seconds, he said how horrible Al Franken was, and how the people of Alabama want Roy Moore to have it," Watson said. "Whoa, I was like: Man, you're not being intellectually honest."
It was difficult, said Watson, to imagine staying with the Republican Party after the 2017 experience. But putting a website and 250 posters with your name and face on them had some impact. Some voters, he said, had suggested that he apply for another office, perhaps locally. He had not ruled it out, depending on how his life and his business were.
"If I did it again," Watson said. "I remember telling my wife first"