On Wednesday, December 27, Roy Moore, the defeated candidate for a U.S. Senate seat from Alabama in a special election held on December 12, filed a last-minute lawsuit to prevent the certification of the victory of his opponent, Doug Jones.
Doug Jones won the seat by about 20,000 votes. His victory narrows the already slender Republican majority in the U.S. Senate. That party now holds a bare majority of 51. After the Senate re-convenes in January, in any otherwise party-line split, a single Republican defector will render the question at issue a tie vote, requiring the vote of the Vice President. Two defections in such a case will produce a Democratic victory.
The sweeping tax reform voted in by Republicans at the end of the last session shows that this arithmetical fact is of urgent importance.
Moore moved to delay the certification of Jones’ victory until a “thorough investigation of potential election fraud” could be concluded. On Thursday, December 28, Judge Hardwick denied that motion. Soon thereafter, the certification went ahead.
Left Wing View
Ed Krassenstein, a bitcoin entrepreneur who has the #Resist hashtag on his twitter home page, tweeted that Moore’s lawsuit was taken from “the playbook of Vladimir Putin” and was likely orchestrated by the President so he and the Republican Party will “have excuses in 2018 & 2020.”
Elliot Hannon, in Slate, noted that three state officials, each of them a Republican, signed off on the certification of Jones’ victory: Governor Kay Ivey, Attorney General Steve Marshall, and Secretary of State John Merrill.
Tara Golshan, at Vox, says that Jones’ complaint cited “already investigated and discredited rumors of voter fraud” and that it also questioned the “likelihood of Democratic turnout in what … became key districts for Jones.” Golshan, further, made a point of the alleged election fraud experts cited in Moore’s complaint: two of them are conspiracist bloggers.
Some of those commenting on the special election have made the point that there were more write-in votes cast than the margin of victory for Jones. This suggests that write-in votes (or more formal third-party candidacies) aren’t necessarily an irrelevant sideshow. In this context, the write-in votes may have come largely from people who were ideologically on Moore’s side, but who were put off by the scandalous personal information that became public during the campaign.
Right Wing View
The only step remaining until Jones is as much a Senator as any Senator has ever been, will be his swearing in, by Vice President Pence, scheduled for January 3.
A press release for Judge Moore, sent out at the time the lawsuit was filed, said confidently that “with a reasonable degree of statistical and mathematical certainty … election fraud occurred.”
There are some conservatives and Republicans who have long sought to distance themselves from Jones. Senator Richard Shelby, the other half of the Alabama delegation to the U.S. Senate, is notable among them. He refused to endorse Moore and even promoted the idea of writing in votes for candidates not on the ballot.
As to the post-election maneuvering and litigation, Sarah Rumpf, of RedState.com, spoke for many conservatives when she quoted a character in the Disney movie Frozen. Moore should just Let it Go.
But Moore has his hard-core followers, who believe he was cheated, and who now presumably include those three certifying officials of the state of Alabama as among the cheaters. On twitter, TraderMoe says “there is a 1 in 15 billion chance that the AL election was honest.”
TraderMoe has also said (apparently offering himself some consolation) that Judge Harwick didn’t find against Moore on the facts, he “only ruled that he did not have jurisdiction.”