Political Insider

An AJC blog about Atlanta politics, Georgia politics, Georgia and metro Atlanta election campaigns. Because all politics is local.

The Jolt: Alabama has become nothing but trouble for Donald Trump


Democrats are relishing a rare victory this morning. And Republicans? They’re wondering if they can tack on a few extra months after Dec. 31 to keep 2018 from arriving. Here’s the official word from the Associated Press:

In a stunning victory aided by scandal, Democrat Doug Jones won Alabama's special Senate election, beating back history, an embattled Republican opponent and President Donald Trump, who urgently endorsed GOP rebel Roy Moore despite a litany of sexual misconduct allegations.

It was the first Democratic Senate victory in a quarter-century in Alabama, one of the reddest of red states, and proved anew that party loyalty is anything but certain in the age of Trump. Tuesday's Republican loss was a major political embarrassment for the president and a fresh wound for the nation's already divided GOP.

"We have shown not just around the state of Alabama, but we have shown the country the way — that we can be unified," Jones declared as supporters in a Birmingham ballroom cheered, danced and cried tears of joy. Still in shock, the Democrat struggled for words: "I think that I have been waiting all my life, and now I just don't know what the hell to say."

Moore, meanwhile, refused to concede and raised the possibility of a recount during a brief appearance at a somber campaign party in Montgomery.

"It's not over," Moore said. He added, "We know that God is still in control."

But the most insightful paragraph of the morning may have been written by Dan Balz of the Washington Post, with President Donald Trump in mind:

In the GOP primary earlier this year, he had endorsed, with limited enthusiasm, Sen. Luther Strange, who had taken the seat of Jeff Sessions when Trump made Sessions his attorney general. For Trump, nothing good has come from that appointment — from a special counsel investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election to a pair of losses in the Alabama races.

Over at the New York Times, Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns see high-end suburbia as 2018's looming battleground. Think Buckhead, east Cobb and north Fulton:

In Jefferson County, which includes Birmingham and some of the state’s wealthiest enclaves, Mr. Jones, the Democratic candidate, captured more than 68 percent of the vote. And in Madison County, home to Huntsville and a large NASA facility, Mr. Jones won 57 percent of the vote.

While these Alabamians, many of them women, may have been appalled by the claims of sexual misconduct against Mr. Moore, results like these were not isolated to this race. They mirrored returns in last month’s statewide and legislative races in Virginia, a state filled with well-heeled suburbanites.

Trump himself was unusually conciliatory last night "> with this Tweet:

But Trump can handle anything but blame. This morning, ">the president was a bit more defensive:

***

The reduction of the Republican majority in the U.S. Senate by one vote puts more bargaining power in the hands of individual GOP senators as final votes on a must-pass tax rewrite looms in Congress.

This morning, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., sent this message out via Twitter:

"I cannot in good conscience vote to add more to the already massive $20 trillion debt. I promised Kentucky to vote against reckless, deficit spending and I will do just that."

In an attached video, he added: “Count me as a ‘no’ in any budget-busting spending bill.”

Were it not for Alabama, the lede article in this post would probably have been an unprecedented, scathing editorial in USA Today, usually home to inoffensive, consensus opinion.

On Monday, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said on CNN that she thought President Donald Trump should resign in the face of accusations of sexual assault from 16 women.

Which prompted Trump to tap this out on his smart phone Tuesday morning – emphasis ours:

Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to my office “begging” for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump. Very disloyal to Bill & Crooked-USED!

Trump’s spokeswoman denied that the highlighted phrase above was sexual in nature. But many aren’t buying that, and here’s where the USA Today editorial comes in. Read the entire piece here, but this is the extraordinary sentence that burns:

A president who would all but call Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand a whore is not fit to clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library or to shine the shoes of George W. Bush.

This morning, Gillibrand was on NBC’s “Today.” Said she: “It was certainly just a sexist smear intended to silence me. I’m not going to be silenced on this issue.”

***

A favorite Georgia Republican takeaway from Tuesday night's election had nothing to do with the deeper implications of Doug Jones' stunning upset. It centered on Alabama's relatively speedy vote count compared to Georgia's woes.

State Sen. Josh McKoon of Columbus, a candidate for secretary of state, wrote:  "Most shocking thing to me about the Alabama election? They count over 1,000,000 votes in less than 2.5 hours. We can do that too!"

State Rep. Buzz Brockway of Lawrenceville another GOP candidate for the post, used the outcome to call for changes in Georgia's electoral system: "Jeff Sessions became AG on February 8. After party primaries, runoffs, and tonight’s election, his Senate vacancy was finally filled. 307 days is far too long for a seat to remain vacant. Ranked choice voting is a better way!" (Greg Bluestein)

***

From U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, Gov. Nathan Deal and on down, Republicans in Georgia have lined up behind Georgia Power’s decision to continue construction on two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle – with ratepayers continuing to pick up a portion of the tab in advance.

This morning brings two GOP defections. We told you earlier this morning about Clay Tippins, a Republican candidate for governor, who had this to say about Plant Vogtle:

"Georgia Power has a cozy relationship with everyone under the Gold Dome. As a result, my opponents have a long record to defend on this issue. I will take the time to ask hard questions and apply my proven management experience to protect the Georgia citizens who pay these bills, while insuring Georgia has the energy required to build the first 21st century state."

And early this morning, the following arrived from the campaign of state Sen. Michael Williams, R-Cumming, another GOP candidate for governor:

"Plant Cronyism has been mismanaged and filled with crony capitalism from the start. GA Power was allowed to pre-bill customers for its construction and now they are again passing on cost ‘overruns’ to its customers.

“Georgia PSC analysts stated that GA Power is over-billing by $3.9 billion. The mismanagement and cost overruns should come from GA Power's massive $5.2 billion profit, not the people of Georgia. We are rewarding failure."

***

We are sensing a trend: A day after she was denied a chance to speak at a state Public Service Commission meeting on Plant Vogtle's two new nuclear reactors, Democrat Lindy Miller returned to try again on Tuesday. And again she was shot down again by PSC chair Stan Wise, who refused to let her speak -- citing her status as a candidate for a seat on the five-person panel next year. "I care deeply about this, and I'm outraged that they would deny me that opportunity," Miller said. "You cannot silence a voice that's putting citizens before lobbyists." (GB)

***

State Rep. Debra Bazemore, D-Riverdale, has filed a bill likely to make her male colleagues in the state Capitol squirm, according to our AJC colleague Mark Niesse. HB 656 would “require that every physician and nurse providing a tampon for use by any female patient under his or her care shall recite and provide certain written information to such female patient regarding the best practices for, and risks associated with, the use of tampons.”

***

Gov. Nathan Deal said Tuesday that he's optimistic that the close ties he's forged with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed will continue with the administration of Keisha Lance Bottoms. “It’s always important that the governor of the state of Georgia and the mayor of our capital city work together," he said. "I look forward to continuing that kind of relationship that I’ve been fortunate enough to have with Mayor Reed.” (GB)

***

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed may be taking up meditation in his waning days in office. Or maybe he's just being cheeky (GB):


Reader Comments ...


About the Author

Jim Galloway is a three-decade veteran of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution who writes the Political Insider blog and column.