As national pundits reveled or puzzled over Roy Moore’s stunning defeat in December, the Rev. James Henderson went to work to rally the evangelical flock.
Two months later, at the Alabama Republican Party’s Feb. 24 winter meeting, Henderson was pushing three resolutions that were likely to sit well with reliably red voters:
- Encourage Alabama lawmakers to pass legislation banning abortions of babies diagnosed with Down Syndrome.
- Express unhappiness about new U.S. Sen. Doug Jones’ vote in January against making it a crime to perform an abortion after 20 weeks of gestation.
- Strengthen anti-illegal immigration enforcement in Alabama, and adhere to the provisions of the state’s 2011 law that have not been “specifically banned by a liberal judge.”
“The core of Alabama Christian voters still believes the things that Roy Moore believes in,” said Henderson, executive director emeritus of the Christian Coalition of Alabama, who also served as Moore’s campaign manager during his 2010 gubernatorial run.
And looking ahead to the state’s 2018 elections, Henderson said, “So as far as Christians and turning out to vote, there won’t be much change in what we’ve seen.” In short, they’ll vote solidly Republican, he said, and, in the June 5 party primary, they’ll incline toward “the most conservative candidates in the race.”
Henderson and others on the Christian right feel confident that their voters will make themselves known in 2018, and loudly so.
If that turns out to be true, Alabama could experience the opposite the “blue wave” predicted elsewhere in the U.S. In many states, this year’s elections are being labeled as a referendum on the first two years of the Donald Trump administration. Political commentators are already talking of Democrats winning on many fronts, potentially taking control of Congress.
Alabama voters had a taste of that blue wave on Dec. 12, when Jones became the first Alabama Democrat elected to the U.S. Senate in a quarter-century. Heading into the 2018 campaigns, Republicans hold six of seven U.S. House seats, enjoy super-majority status in the Legislature, and occupy all of the state’s executive offices.
“I see people who are angry about the election in December, and I believe more and more of the Republican Party, including Christian conservatives, will be out there on June 5 and again in November,” said Rich Hobson, Moore’s campaign chairman during last year’s election who is now seeking the U.S. House seat held by Republican Rep. Martha Roby.
“I do think there will be a strong desire among conservatives in Alabama to make a resurgence and reclaim their sort of kingmaker place in Alabama politics,” said Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, and a longtime observer of Southern politics. “I would expect them to be energized.”
SOURCE: John Sharp