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Midweek Must-Reads: Moore Wins #ALsen Run-Off, Corker Out in #TNsen

The results from last night’s Alabama run-off pour gasoline over already raging primaries and throw into question how Republicans can confront the insurgent candidates who now feel even more emboldened to run. Reminder: Republicans now own Roy Moore and the uncomfortable questions he’ll provoke in races across the country.

How bad can it get? Well, Senator Corker dropped out just a week after his own primary challenger emerged and hours before Moore cruised to victory.

Here are your midweek must-reads:

Washington Post: After Alabama, GOP anti-establishment wing declares all-out war in 2018
By Robert Costa

Key Points:

  • The stunning defeat of President Trump’s chosen Senate candidate in Alabama on Tuesday amounted to a political lightning strike — setting the stage for a worsening Republican civil war that could have profound effects on next year’s midterm elections… could also produce a stampede of Republican retirements in the coming months and an energized swarm of challengers.
  • Hard-line challengers to Senate Republicans seized on the fall of Strange, who had been boosted by Trump and millions in outside Republican spending, as a sign of how the clamor of anti-establishment forces like Breitbart News — chaired by former White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon — could empower them, regardless of whether Trump rallies behind sitting senators.
  • “People everywhere are outraged with the swamp, but there has been hesitation in some states among people who are thinking about it. They wondered whether these senators can be beat. This changes all of that,” said Danny Tarkanian, a GOP businessman running against Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.).
  • For months, only three of them — Flake, Heller and Wicker — were widely seen as vulnerable to primary upsets. But in the wake of Alabama, GOP operatives are no longer ruling out an expanded map of targets for Bannon and his associates, such as former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, who stormed behind Moore’s candidacy to reassert her influence within the party.

Read the full story here

New York Times: Roy Moore Wins Senate G.O.P. Runoff in Alabama
By Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns

Key Points:

  • In a race that began as something of a political afterthought and ended up showcasing the right’s enduring divisions, the victory by Mr. Moore, one of the most tenacious figures in Alabama politics, will likely embolden other anti-establishment conservatives to challenge incumbent Republicans in next year’s midterm elections.
  • And more immediately, the party will be forced to wrestle with how to prop up an often-inflammatory candidate given to provocative remarks on same-sex marriage and race — all to protect a seat in a deep-red state. Mr. Moore’s incendiary rhetoric will also oblige others in the party to answer for his comments, perhaps for years to come, at a time when many Republicans would just as soon move on from the debate over gay rights.
  • But his loss was not just a blow to Mr. Trump. Mr. Moore relentlessly linked the senator to Mr. McConnell, who has made a priority of protecting his caucus from intraparty challenges, but is an increasingly polarizing figure among grass-roots Republicans. Despite the money and staff he directed to the race, Mr. McConnell became as much a liability as he was an asset, leaving Republicans nervously wondering what that may portend in other primaries next year.

Read the full story here

Politico: Moore’s win spells trouble for GOP establishment in 2018
By Alex Isenstadt

Key Points:

  • Insurgent Roy Moore’s rout of incumbent GOP Sen. Luther Strange in Alabama’s special election Tuesday has senior Republicans bracing for a wave of resource-draining primaries across the map that could undermine their best-laid plans to defeat Democrats in 2018.
  • Moore’s win — over an incumbent who benefited from millions of dollars in spending by a super PAC aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — is certain to provide fuel for conservative challengers lining up to take on sitting senators in states like Arizona, Nevada, Mississippi.
  • McConnell himself has expressed profound worries about primaries and the impact they could have on his party’s 2018 prospects. In the weeks leading up to the Alabama runoff, the Republican leader privately predicted that a Moore win would stoke insurgent bids across the country.
  • Republican Party leadership has a big problem on its hands. McConnell has vowed to do everything in his power to help incumbents in primaries, but that protection effort is likely to cost the party many millions of dollars.

Read the full story here

BuzzFeed: Neither Money Nor Trump Worked In Alabama
By Henry J. Gomez, Alexis Levinson, Tarini Parti

Key Points

  • Big Luther was a big loss for President Donald Trump and the Republican establishment. Now they must prepare themselves for the outcome they spent so much time, so much money, and so many tweets trying to avoid: right-wing firebrand Roy Moore in the US Senate — and hope for other insurgent candidates looking to unseat GOP incumbents.
  • Moore beat Luther Strange, the interim Alabama senator favored by Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and other DC insiders, in Tuesday’s closely watched GOP primary runoff. McConnell and his allies together put more than $15 million on the race.
  • Moore’s win has deeper consequences for Trump, McConnell, and the Republican Party. Other outsiders, seeing that a Trump-McConnell alliance is beatable, could feel even more emboldened to take on incumbents in the 2018 midterms. Trump, who loves to please his base and hates to lose, might be reluctant the next time he’s asked to save an endangered sitting Republican. At the very least, they have lost a reliable vote at a time when passing major legislation has proved a major challenge with a slim majority in the Senate.
  • How these factions of the GOP align — or not — will likely be determined in a number of Republican primaries in 2018, when efforts to protect a slew of incumbents from challenges could result in a costly Republican Civil War.
  • Moore’s win — despite being outspent significantly — could push other anti-establishment candidates to mount campaigns against well-funded incumbents, forcing some major donors to be more careful about where they put their money.
  • Tarkanian is taking on Nevada Sen. Dean Heller. Arizona Sen. Flake is already facing Kelli Ward and potentially more GOP primary challengers. Chris McDaniel, who ran against Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran in 2014, has hinted running again against Sen. Roger Wicker. Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker’s retirement announcement Tuesday will likely also spur a battle between the GOP establishment and insurgent candidates in the primary for that open seat. At the very least, it could promise expensive primaries in a year when Democrats face an extremely difficult map.

Read the full story here.

Bloomberg: How Roy Moore’s Win Roils Republicans
By Jonathan Bernstein

Key Points:

  • Cracks in the Senate Majority: Not only did Strange lose, but Tennessee Senator Bob Corker announced on Tuesday he will not run for re-election. Both states would have been absolutely safe for Republicans with those candidates on the ballot. Without them they’re still very likely to go Republican, but it’s possible to imagine Democratic upsets.
  • The Senator Roy Moore Effect: The most likely outcome is still that Moore wins… But as unwieldy as their slim majority was to handle this year, it’s apt to get worse with Moore — who ran by bashing Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — taking a seat. Corker’s replacement will probably be less inclined to cut deals and compromise, too. And the primary result in Alabama will likely encourage other primary challenges to Republican incumbents at all levels. At the worst, for Republicans, they’ll lose a handful of elections as a result of fringe candidates defeating easy winners and then losing to Democrats. But even if that doesn’t happen, it’s going to make governing more difficult for Republicans.

Read the full story here. 

Washington Post: Sen. Bob Corker’s retirement is notable for when it’s happening
By Amber Phillips

Key Points:

  • It’s worth noting the environment that Corker, who chairs the powerful Foreign Relations Committee and was once a Trump foreign policy adviser and potential vice presidential contender, is leaving.
  • Republicans control Congress for the first time in a decade, but instead of coming together, they’ve devolved into several factions that have made it nearly impossible to deliver on their central campaign promise for the past seven years.
  • Whatever his reason, his retirement isn’t good news for Republicans.
  • Republican leaders, themselves frustrated right now, are surely asking themselves: Will others follow Corker out the door? If so, it’s the last thing Republicans need right now.

Read the full story here. 

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DSCC Chairman Van Hollen on Alabama Runoff Results

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