Political eyes are on Alabama on Tuesday, where a Republican primary for the Senate has turned into a proxy war. The race pits Luther Strange, who was appointed to temporarily fill Jeff Sessions' seat, against former State Supreme Court justice Roy Moore. Strange is backed by President Trump and the party establishment, including Mitch McConnell. Moore, however, is backed by Steve Bannon, who says a Moore victory will send the message to McConnell and the GOP hierarchy that their "day of reckoning" is coming, reports Politico. Coverage:
- The polls: Moore is up big, 52-41, in an election-eve poll by Alabama data firm Cygnal, reports the Hill. The poll, which came after Trump appeared with Strange at a rally on Friday, suggests the president's support isn't much of a factor. Trump disagrees, tweeting Tuesday that "Strange has been shooting up in the Alabama polls since my endorsement. Finish the job - vote today for 'Big Luther.'" However, it seems Moore's lead has been shrinking in recent days, notes FiveThirtyEight.
- Bannon's fight: He gave a thundering speech for Moore on Monday night, one that suggests a nasty Republican "civil war" is in the offing, observes Politico. Bannon has made "electing Moore—a like-minded, pugilistic outsider—the first of what he hopes will be many pet projects to oust 'globalist' Republican incumbents," writes Alex Isenstadt. Bannon is similarly backing candidates against Sens. Dean Heller in Nevada and Jeff Flake in Arizona, notes CNN.
- 'Rubes': In his speech, Bannon told Alabama residents that GOP leaders think they're "a pack of morons" and "nothing but rubes." Send a message with Tuesday's vote, he urged. British Brexit leader Nigel Farage appeared at the same rally, asserting that a Moore victory would "rejuvenate" the Trump grass-roots movement.
- Trump: Why the split with Bannon over the race? Bannon suggests the president was led astray. "We did not come here to defy Donald Trump," he said Monday. "We came here to praise and honor him." And in his own speech for Strange last week, Trump seemed to be having second thoughts. "I'll be honest, I might have made a mistake," he said, per the Washington Post. He later added, however, "Luther will win."
- 'Ten Commandments' judge: Moore is perhaps best known for being removed from the bench because he refused an order from the US Supreme Court to remove a Ten Commandments plaque. He also was suspended for ordering lower-court judges to defy the US Supreme Court and enforce the state's ban on same-sex marriage. The Daily Beast rounds up some of his controversial statements on everything from gay rights to Islam to evolution.
- Red to blue? Tuesday's winner will face Democrat Doug Jones in the December general election. Because Alabama is a deep-red state, either of the GOP candidates will be the favorite. But Moore could "plausibly" lose to Jones given his controversial past, writes Harry Entin at FiveThirtyEight. A post at the American Spectator agrees.
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