Sen. Richard Shelby says he wants a Republican elected to the Senate on Tuesday to represent Alabama, but that he didn’t vote for GOP candidate Roy Moore in the special election.
The Alabama Republican said he’s already cast his ballot, and that he chose a write-in candidate.
“I’d rather see the Republican win, but I’d rather see a Republican write-in. I couldn’t vote for Roy Moore. I didn’t vote for Roy Moore,” Shelby told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”
Former Alabama Senator and now Attorney General Jeff Sessions has also repeatedly stuck a knife in the disgraced judge, saying that he has no reason to doubt Moore’s accusers. And, of course, the current occupant of the Senate seat in question, Luther Strange, lost a bitter primary contest against Moore earlier this year.
Alabama, like many Southern states, has a reputation for being hostile to outside interlopers and carpetbaggers dictating its culture and its elections. Donald Trump is a rich, Yankee heathen. Steve Bannon, who has been one of Moore’s top surrogates, is a decadent Wall Streeter with mansions in California and Malibu. They’re all in on Moore.
But Alabama’s own homegrown conservative political stars are still publicly repudiating him.
If Alabama’s Republican voters back Moore by big enough margins for him to win, it won’t just confirm the power of partisanship, or the evangelical culture of sexual abuse, or their willingness to tolerate even the most morally repugnant candidates.
It will also confirm that even in Alabama, conservatism has gotten worse and more virulent. It will confirm that the Southern resistance to carpetbagging political figures isn’t really about outside interference, but about protecting white male supremacy.
And it will confirm that, at long last, the rest of the country shouldn’t bother ever to care again what these so-called “values voters” say or believe. When you’ve gone too far for even Alabama’s top Republicans, that’s saying something else.
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David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.