Alabama voters for the sixth time since 1914, will step into the polls on Tuesday to determine their party nominees during a special U.S. Senate race.
The stakes are high: Republicans know that their statewide primaries have lately decided the eventual winner. Voters haven’t elected a Democrat to statewide office since 2006, or to the Senate since 1992. [GOP profiles | Democrat profiles]
Turnout expectations, GOP infighting and a President Trump endorsement are among the storylines being closely watched by pundits around the country.
For example: There’s an intriguing alliance of President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitchel McConnell, whose relationship, otherwise, seems to grow more prickly by the day. They’re riding the same horse in the race, GOP incumbent Luther Strange.
“There is just so much going on in and around this election and not just with the candidates,” said Cal Jillson, professor of political science Southern Methodist University in Dallas. “I think it does have implications beyond the state of Alabama for the divisions within the Republican Party.”
Said William Kristol, founder and editor-at-large of the “The Weekly Standard”: “Normally, these kind of off-cycle, multi-candidate primaries don’t usually have national implications. But McConnell has invested heavily in Strange that he’s made it kind of a test of establishment versus grass roots.”
The biggest surprise in the Senate campaign occurred on Tuesday, with Trump’s bolt-out-of-the-blue endorsement of Strange. Nationally, many Trump devotees have been lining up behind U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks of Huntsville, viewing him as a stronger supporter of the president’s “America First” agenda.
Brooks, on Thursday, called on Trump to rescind the endorsement and jumping to his side, although that appeared to be going nowhere as the week ended.
All nine candidates in the Republican field have pushed to position themselves as Trump stalwarts, and for good reason. Trump…