As some of you (probably all of you) may have heard, through a series of probable and improbable events, Roy Moore won the Republican nomination for US senator from Alabama. Since then, there has been a revelation that when he was younger, he had an eye for the younger ladies. As young as 14. That’s a subject in and of itself (a post on related issues is coming).

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.


Category: Elsewhere

About the Author

Will Truman (trumwill) is a southern transplant in the mountain east with an IT background who bides his time taking care of their daughter while his wife brings home the bacon. You will probably be relieved to know that he does not generally refer to himself in the third-person except when he's writing short bios on his web page.

6 Responses to Canceling Elections #BanPrimaries #BanSpecialElections

  1. Mike Schilling says:

    The governor has discretion about special elections, but this one has already gone two rounds, with absentee ballots having been mailed out for the third, and final rounds. (I think the process was designed by Bud Selig). It’s pretty late in the game to call this a normal, unobjectionable use of the governor’s powers.

    • trumwill says:

      Oh, I agree that it’s abnormal. Possibly to the point that the courts would intervene (and I would leave that to them – if they did so, I’d understand). But even if not, that’s one of the things that makes me uneasy about it. That’s part of what I’m having difficulty justifying and why I lean against.

      But as a solution to the problem, it’s less (or at least no more) outrageous to me than refusing to seat him in the first place, or immediate expulsion. Both of which I have seen advocated.

  2. The question says:

    I worry about normalizing election f****** no matter who does it plus like you said, been mailed this seems way late in the game to go possible pedophilia is the line we draw that’s where will cancel elections canceling elections just seems undemocratic on its merits

  3. trumwill says:

    It’s hard to argue fudging with special elections and narrow fudging of elections hasn’t already been normalized. This is easier for me to justify than previous cases because this didn’t actually require changing the law. As such, it applies to a very narrow set of circumstances that simply don’t apply in most states and circumstances, which codify how more explicitly how special elections are conducted, keeping it narrower than previous instances. I think Alabama is actually more likely to close this loophole going forward than other states are to add ambiguity to their process to allow for it.

  4. Foose says:

    So the image of Poe and the raven is a reference to the author’s marriage to a … 14-year-old? And a first cousin!

  5. Kevin says:

    1. It amazes me how far one party (in this case, the republicans) will go to protect one of their own. can you imagine the shrieking from the right if these allegations had been made against Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, or even a lesser known Democratic candidate for the Senate? I’ve heard republicans analogize Roy Moore’s fondness for underage teens to St. Joseph’s marriage to the Virgin Mary. I know Democrats can be hypocritical too but I cannot imagine anyone on the left trying to justify a thirty-plus-year old man dating a fourteen-year old. But because roy moore likes the ten commandments and spouts the Christian Right’s positions on homosexuality, morality, afterlife, etc., what he ‘allegedly’ did is okay.

    2. What troubles me more about his fondness for underage girls, although I find that deeply troubling, is his utter disregard for law. As a lawyer who goes to court on a regular basis (civil, not criminal), I know how important it is to have judges that follow binding precedent. If the US SCt says that homosexuals have a constitutional right to marry, and I’m on the Alabama Supreme Court (or any other state or federal court in the US), I have to follow that, even if I don’t like it. It is one thing for a judge to slice with a very thin blade to get out of binding precedent that he or she doesn’t like. I expect that. But to just ignore it undermines our legal system and would ultimately lead to anarchy.

    3. Having family in the deep south (Mississippi, not Alabama, although the culture in both states is very similar), it would not surprise me in the least if Roy Moore won. So many white folk in rural southern states have such a persecution complex. they honestly believe that they are a disenfranchised minority, even though virtually everyone (and I do mean everyone) in their community thinks like they do. At my mom’s funeral in southern Mississippi, I spoke to the county chairman of the Democratic party. she said there are 12 Democrats in that county. Not 12,000. Just 12. and she wasn’t exaggerating. While I understand that the rest of the country does not share their values (thankfully, in my opinion, as I find many of them to be utterly ignorant and bigoted), the notion that they are somehow stripped of power that should rightfully theirs is so at odds with objective fact as to be delusional. Because of the Electoral College, their votes count more than mine do (I live in Texas). Of the Republicans last three presidential victories, they last the popular vote. Can you imagine talk radio if Trump (or Bush in 2000, for that matter) won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College? They’d be singing a different tune. Their views on religion are also intolerant of anyone who is not the brand of christianity (typically baptist, but almost always protestant) that they practice.

    4. Will, shoot me an email when you have a moment. I’d be keenly interested to know your thoughts on our alma mater’s football season this year and whether you have any future trips planned to my neck of the woods.

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