Amid signs former Alabama judge Roy Moore is planning another Senate bid, President Donald Trump has urged him to stay out of the 2020 race after sexual misconduct allegations helped wreck a 2017 run that gave the seat to Democrat Doug Jones.
A day after Moore took to Twitter to signal he’s planning a second bid, the president fired off his own pair of tweets declaring that the twice-removed judge “probably won’t” be able to defeat Jones and bring the seat formerly held by Jeff Sessions — Trump’s onetime attorney general — back into Republican hands.
“Republicans cannot allow themselves to again lose the Senate seat in the Great State of Alabama. This time it will be for Six Years, not just Two,” wrote Trump, who endorsed Moore’s general election bid two years ago.
“If Alabama does not elect a Republican to the Senate in 2020, many of the incredible gains that we have made during my Presidency may be lost, including our Pro-Life victories,” said Trump, who then offered Moore some blunt advice.
“Roy Moore cannot win, and the consequences will be devastating. … Judges and Supreme Court Justices!” he said in a nod to what many political forecasters predict will likely be a narrow GOP Senate majority come 2021.
Jones won a 2017 special election, upsetting Moore, a former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice. After emerging from a contested GOP primary, Moore faced decades-old allegations of sexual misconduct with teenage girls. A combination of increased Democratic turnout and Republicans who couldn’t stomach supporting Moore led to a narrow Jones victory, the first Senate win for a Democrat in the deep-red state in a quarter-century.
As always, Trump attempted to walk a fine line between the GOP establishment — which is staunchly against the uber-conservative Moore’s entry into their 2020 Senate primary — and his conservative base.
“I have NOTHING against Roy Moore, and unlike many other Republican leaders, wanted him to win,” the president tweeted. “But he didn’t, and probably won’t [in 2020].”
Republicans cannot allow themselves to again lose the Senate seat in the Great State of Alabama. This time it will be for Six Years, not just Two. I have NOTHING against Roy Moore, and unlike many other Republican leaders, wanted him to win. But he didn’t, and probably won’t…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 29, 2019
Donald Trump Jr., who is already heavily involved in his father’s re-election bid — he warmed up a rally in Pennsylvania last week by casting the president and Republicans as victims of a Democratic conspiracy to take down the elder Trump and dramatically raise taxes while opening the southern border — also weighed in on Moore’s potential run.
“You are literally the only candidate who could lose a GOP seat in pro-Trump, pro-USA ALABAMA,” Trump Jr. tweeted Tuesday, tagging Moore’s Twitter handle. “Running for office should never become a business model. If you actually care about #MAGA more than your own ego, it’s time to ride off into the sunset, Judge.”
You mean like last time? You’re literally the only candidate who could lose a GOP seat in pro-Trump, pro-USA ALABAMA. Running for office should never become a business model. If you actually care about #MAGA more than your own ego, it’s time to ride off into the sunset, Judge. https://t.co/Twg9isFRkY
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) May 28, 2019
One reason for the Trump offensive to press Moore to opt against a second bid is a recent poll that found him leading the GOP field.
A Mason-Dixon Polling and Strategy survey from early April gave Moore 29 percent of the vote in a hypothetical GOP primary, ahead of Reps. Mo Brooks, Bradley Byrne and Gary Palmer. Byrne is the only one of the three who has entered the Senate race. Brooks said last month he is not interested.
State Republican officials told Roll Call in February they did not expect Moore to seek a rematch with Jones, but his more recent actions suggest otherwise.
After Byrne told a reporter from The Hill newspaper that he welcomes Moore to the GOP primary fight but believes he could not defeat Jones in another general election match up, Moore tweeted: “What is Bradley so worried about?”
In a second tweet, Moore wrote: “He knows that if I run I will beat Doug Jones.”