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The Alabama Senate Race and… Busby??

The Alabama race to replace Jeff Sessions in the US Senate has become the big political story of 2017. It started with expected winner Mo Brooks being stabbed in the back by Donald Trump. Trump supported incumbent Luther Strange, who was favored by Mitch McConnell. That killed Brooks’ chances, and led to a runoff between Strange and Roy Moore. Trump had secretly allowed Moore to use his email list, but then withdrew it, and publicly supported Strange, even campaigning in person. But when Trump saw the polls, he publicly announced—a day before the election—that he had made a mistake supporting him.

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Moore then looked like a shoo-in. Then, after the wave of allegations against Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and others, the Washington Post heard stories about Moore’s past, so they sent reporters to Alabama to check it out. The interest in sexual misconduct has become massive. There’s even a name for the phenomenon—the “Weinstein Effect.” Sure enough, they found allegations, which were supported by people they had told at the time. There’s no question about why the women “waited.” They didn’t wait. If it were not for the “me too” movement, and reporters digging, they would have remained silent.

Democratic candidate Doug Jones is running ads, showing pictures of the young girls who say Moore made passes at. And the polls have shifted. Some still show Moore in the lead. Others have Jones leading, most notably, Fox News, although that poll may be a ruse to scare GOP voters into going to the polls, since Moore’s win is not assured.

Suddenly, there was consideration that a Democrat might have an outside chance against a purported pedophile, who then lied about his predilection for pubescent pulchritude. But—a Democrat in Alabama?? The choice of an accused child molester and a, well, Democrat, surely is the definition of “choosing between the lesser of two evils.”

But up steps independent candidate Lee Busby. He’s the GOP dream candidate. A military man, who can claim a Trump connection, so he’ll be taken seriously, but who is painting himself as a moderate.

Retired Marine Col. Lee Busby, 60, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, said Monday he plans to challenge Democratic candidate Doug Jones and embattled Republican Roy Moore for the state’s open seat. He also launched a bare-bones website counting down to the Dec. 12 special election.

Busby — who said he voted for Ohio Gov. John Kasich in the 2016 Republican primary and for President Donald Trump in the general election but says he is “not involved” with the Republican Party apparatus — told POLITICO in an interview that he was inspired to run out of his disillusionment with the existing candidates for Senate. . .

Busby, who served as vice chief of staff to Kelly when he was a three-star lieutenant general, expressed support for Trump’s performance in office thus far. He said he had not spoken with Kelly or any major party officials about his candidacy, but he said he could see himself reaching out if his campaign picks up steam.

Busby could be a good choice for Republicans who don’t like Moore, but the State apparatus is still behind Moore. Even the woman governor of the state says she’ll be voting for him. And the fact that the national GOP establishment has begged Moore to step aside, that’s actually a positive for Trumpist voters. And that is underlined by Trump’s “support” of Moore.

Characteristically, in his “support,” Trump is claiming credit for boosting Luther Strange—who lost. But instead of promoting Moore, he bashes Jones.

Trump, who tapped Kelly to be his chief of staff in July, blasted Jones in an early morning tweet on Sunday, indirectly lending his support to Moore’s candidacy.

“I endorsed Luther Strange in the Alabama Primary. He shot way up in the polls but it wasn’t enough. Can’t let Schumer/Pelosi win this race. Liberal Jones would be BAD!” he wrote.

Meanwhile, it’s reported that Trump is quite upset with his daughter Ivanka, who has said, “there’s a special place in hell people who prey on children” and “I have no reason to doubt the victims’ accounts.” Those quotes are being used verbatim in Jones’ ads. And, so, if you respect Ivanka, perhaps you’d listen to her, and vote against Moore. Alabama’s senior senator, Richard Shelby is also featured in the ads. That’s when Busby steps in.

Busby says he is not a spoiler in the race:

Independent Alabama Senate candidate Lee Busby said Tuesday that his campaign is not intended to serve as a spoiler for Republican candidate Roy Moore but instead to offer a more palatable option to a “big swath of average Alabamians” unhappy with the major party candidates.

Perhaps it would help to have a little historical perspective. When a party is the overwhelming favorite, it can survive discord. Look at the presidential election of 1948. Democrats were the overwhelming favorite of Americans, thanks to their appreciation for the job done by Franklin Roosevelt, dealing with both the Depression and World War II.

But Roosevelt wasn’t on the ballot. Harry Truman was, and Truman was suffering from the same “hangover” that Lyndon Johnson faced after the loss of JFK. It’s hard to look good when you follow someone great. The Republicans thought Tom Dewey could win. And that was bolstered because, in addition to voter fatigue with Democrats, who had held the White House for 16 years straight, Truman also had a revolt of Southern Democrats, known as “Dixiecrats,” with their presidential candidate, Strom Thurmond. Today, it would be as if the same group, now the Republican “Solid South,” ran a candidate against Trump in 2020.

That threatened Truman on the right. Meanwhile, liberal Henry Wallace, Roosevelt’s previous vice president, was running on the left, as the Progressive Party candidate. Republicans were so sure of winning that their favorite paper, the Chicago Tribune, ran a headline, “DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN” in its early editions, only to find that the far west gave Truman the votes he needed to be elected.

I bring that up because today’s pundits are worried about the candidacy of Lee Busby. They think he might split the GOP vote, letting Jones win. But as noted above, this is a “choice between two evils.” If the battle is just between Moore and Jones, a lot of moral Republicans might hold their noses and vote for Jones, as a rejection of Moore. However, with the option to vote for Busby, Jones won’t get those anti-Moore votes. So it’s likely that Busby’s campaign may assure Moore’s election.

Take a look at Busby. He voted for Kasich. He calls himself a “centrist.” And he has gone out of his way to say he never liked Moore. That’s not a candidate that conservative, much less Trumpist voters, would find appealing. A cynic might think that Busby’s write-in effort is really just a way to siphon off the anti-Moore vote from Jones. And since there are only about twelve Democratic voters in Alabama, that should take care of it.

Goethe Behr :Goethe Behr is a Contributing Editor and Moderator at Election Central. He started out posting during the 2008 election, became more active during 2012, and very active in 2016. He has been a political junkie since the 1950s and enjoys adding a historical perspective.

View Comments (5)

  • Are you purposefully leaving out Ron Bishop or are you just not aware of him? He is the Libertarian Party write in candidate for the Senate seat.

    • For the same reason we're "purposelfully leaving out" Chanda Mills Crutcher (I), Eulas Kirtdoll (I)[, Arlester "Mack" McBride (I), and Mac Watson (R). They'll win when donkeys fly.

        • The difference is that Busby's "candidacy" is a direct response to Republican disaffection with Moore. And the point is that Busby is the reasonable way to object to Moore, eliminating Jones as an alternative.

          You're not saying there's no difference between the Republican and Libertarian parties, are you?

          The Republican won with 97.5% of the vote in 2014. Even the Democrat, Williams, ran as a write-in.

  • This fellow Busby seems like Evan McMullin's challenge to Donald J Trump in Utah during the 2016 presidential election. It seems a little shady for him to come out 2 weeks before election day.?