MONTGOMERY, Ala.—Judge Roy Moore’s victory in the Alabama Senate primary came in the face of opposition from millions of dollars in Republican establishment money and the president himself. And that means there will be more insurgent candidates like him in the 2018 midterm cycle.
Though Moore didn’t have $10 million from a super PAC connected to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and a rally with President Trump like his opponent Luther Strange, he had a loyal following in Alabama and the vehement backing of the political machine controlled by Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist who has returned to the helm of Breitbart News after leaving the White House in August. Over the past few weeks, Breitbart became laser-focused on the Alabama race, deploying several staffers here. Bannon himself came to Alabama for a rally on Monday night, where he made a rare public speech casting the race as the beginning of a “reckoning” against establishment figures like Karl Rove and Ward Baker. Bannon was careful, however, not to publicly criticize Trump.
Moore also benefited from favorable internal dynamics in Alabama, where he has a devoted base, has been a known quantity for years, and which formed the launching pad for his national notoriety as the “10 Commandments Judge” because of his battle to keep a monument to the 10 Commandments at the state’s supreme court. He has also long been a supporter of Trump-like positions even before Trump, such as opposing Muslim congressman Keith Ellison’s using a Koran to be sworn in, and questioning where Barack Obama was born.