There have been some moves recently to fiddle with the special election and perhaps even cancel it.
The narrative from the left has shifted from the Republicans can’t or won’t do anything about Roy Moore to being aghast that they might have found a way to prevent him without actually losing the seat. Someone cynical might even say that the opposition to Moore had less to do with him being particular bad and more to do with him being a Republican, and maybe a belief on their part that Moore might actually be useful as an anchor around the party. if one were cynical. It has a fair amount of explanatory power, at any rate.
Actually, I believe 100% that is the case with some. With others, I am relatively certain it isn’t. But we’re all blinkered by our political and partisan desires to some degree or another. I would suggest that at least some of the outrage at the possibility that the election might be canceled (it won’t) is a hair-trigger for revulsion at anything the GOP does to its own advantage.
In 2002, New Jersey had a senator named Bob Torricelli. He was corrupt. Democrats were perfectly okay with that corruption – never putting up as much resistance to him as the GOP put up to Moore, for example – right up until it appeared that he was going to lose. Then they got him out of the race. The problem is that the deadline for changing the ballots had passed. So they went to court and demanded that the ballots be changed. Preventing a Democrat from appearing on the ballot was against democracy and by trying to prevent a new Democrat from being on the ballot – you know, enforcing the law – Republicans were actively trying to prevent democracy. The bastards! (Remember what I said about hair-triggers?). Democrats took it to court and won. Oddly enough, a few years later, Democrats actively sought to prevent Republicans from pulling the same trick in Texas, and succeeded.
Meanwhile, in Massachusetts Democrats changed the procedure for replacing senators twice in order to prevent Mitt Romney from nominating a successor to John Kerry in 2004 (if he’d won) and enable Deval Patrick to do so for Kennedy later that decade.
The notion of canceling elections in Alabama has one major advantage over all of these things: It’s actually in accordance with existing law. Existing law gives the governor the ability to call elections or not. The ability to let the appointee serve out the balance of the term is legally at her discretion. They wouldn’t have to go to court. Others might go to court to overturn the law, but not to create new law as was the case in New Jersey (and was attempted in Texas). It is actually reminiscent of parliamentary systems, where elections are frequently called to the advantage of the incumbent party. They’re not explicitly canceled, but you hold an election now precisely so that you don’t have to hold it at a later date.
For what it’s worth, I am conflicted on the idea and actually lean against. I don’t like changing the rules in the middle of the game and Moore is awful but one senator in 100 doesn’t really justify it. I’m also not sure it’s worth the backlash in this case. If they do it, I won’t really raise a stink. I’ll just be glad that Moore isn’t in the senate.
I am relatively sure a lot of Democrats are approaching this from a standpoint of saving/losing a seat and all that. Indeed, ironies of ironies, they’re prepared to go to court to prevent a ballot change because changing a candidate after the filing deadline would be cheating! Huh. But anyway, this isn’t a matter of the election being canceled or the Democrat winning. It’s as likely as not a case of Senator Moore vs Senator Bogstandardrepublican. Even with all that’s going on, Roy Moore is hanging roughly even with Democrat Doug Jones. As the heat dissipates, it seems more likely than not Moore will recover. Democrats themselves were telling me this not a couple of days ago.
So if opposition to Moore is opposition to Moore, one would think that they might actually give the idea some consideration. If opposition to Moore is opposition to the GOP, it makes sense to reflexively cry bloody murder here and do everything you can do keep Moore on the ballot.
As for the Republicans… we’ll see. They have actually done more here than I expected them to do. After watching the Access Hollywood Carousel last year, I have taken all wiggle room to be deliberate and immediately pounced on the “if” of their statements (if he did it). But right now they’re doing everything I would expect of a party that is actually repulsed. Governor Ivey has declared that she won’t call a new election. Moore isn’t going to step aside. They’re either going to help Moore and more-or-less secure their senate majority in 2018, or they’re not and they’re going to imperil it. I suspect I know which path they’re going to take, though I’m open to being pleasantly surprised.
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