The Jolt’s Roy Moore edition: Trump engages, Obama might, and ‘ritual defamation’

We’re 24 hours and change away from settling the Alabama race for U.S. Senate,

which could very well set the tone for the 2018 election cycle.

Republican Roy Moore, as has been his habit in past statewide campaigns, is executing a below-radar strategy that has him avoiding large crowds and mainstream media questions about his alleged pursuit of teenagers when a prosecutor in his 30s.

Democrat Doug Jones has spent the weekend calling him out. From the Associated Press:

He's appeared at only a handful of rallies in front of friendly audiences and steadfastly has shunned reporters from the mainstream media.

"Roy Moore is in hiding. He's kind of like the groundhog. He comes out every so often to see if he can see his shadow," Jones said Saturday in Selma during one of several stops for the Democrat this weekend.

Ben DuPre, a campaign spokesman, said Moore is not holding back.

"He's talking to voters. We are getting the message out any way that we can. I know you are the old media and you get offended when we don't talk to you, but we've got Twitter. We've got Facebook. He's doing interviews. He's doing radio."

“Ritual defamation has been around for a long time, and that’s what this is. It’s inconceivable to think somebody would wait 40 years because they were embarrassed or ashamed of something.”

Watch here:

President Donald Trump was in Pensacola, Fla., on Friday, directing his comments toward nearby Alabama – in full-throated support of Moore. The Washington Post had this thought about Trump’s geographic positioning:

While the president has made a big push for Moore, he has done so from afar — avoiding joint photo ops or other visuals that could haunt Trump if Moore loses. Trump appears to be setting himself up to claim credit if Moore wins while allowing himself to claim some distance if Moore loses.

On Sunday, U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, Alabama’s senior senator, weighed in. "I couldn't vote for Roy Moore. I didn't vote for Roy Moore. But I wrote in a distinguished Republican name. And I think a lot of people could do that," Shelby told CNN's "State of the Union."

An editorial this morning on, the digital presentation by the company that operates Alabama’s largest newspapers, focused on that development:

Moore might dismiss Shelby as part of the "Washington establishment" (though he has been silent about Shelby's choice). But 64 percent of Alabama voters reelected Shelby a year ago. He has been Alabama's senator since 1986. He has served the state with dignity and he has never embarrassed us. His judgment of Moore is convincing.

For a state's senior senator to not support his party's nominee for the other seat is almost unheard of. Historians could find just one example: from 1990, when Louisiana's Republican nominee was David Duke, a former KKK leader. Alabamians should think hard about how effective Moore can be as junior senator, with such a fissure between him and Shelby, let alone other Republicans.

Meanwhile, Democrats are conducting a last-minute push among black voters, who need to turn out in force if Jones is to have a chance. Over the weekend, they debated what buttons to push. From the New York Times:

Former President Barack Obama has taped a get-out-the-vote call for Mr. Jones, but on Sunday night the candidate’s advisers were still weighing whether to use it. Mr. Obama is beloved among black voters but is still unpopular among some of the Republican-leaning white voters Mr. Jones needs.

But Mr. Jones’s campaign is highlighting Mr. Obama in another way. It has deluged black radio stations with commercials promoting Mr. Jones, one of which describes Mr. Moore as “backed by the racist alt-right groups” and brands him “a birther, still insisting that Barack Obama was born in Kenya and isn’t an American.”

The Democrat himself is using language that might not register outside the confines of the state. From the Associated Press:

Jones, 63, stops short of explicitly comparing Moore to the four-term Gov. George Wallace, whose populism was rooted in segregation. But Jones alluded Sunday to that era of Alabama politics.

"Elect a responsible man to a responsible office," Jones said, repeating the campaign slogan of another Alabama governor, Albert Brewer, who nearly defeated Wallace in 1970 in a contest Alabama liberals and many moderates still lament as a lost opportunity.


In South Carolina, where an attempt to build a new nuclear plant has gone bust, the Charleston Post and Courier has a critical look at decision-making among utilities. It begins thusly:

Over the past decade, state legislatures across the country rewrote rule books for how power companies pay for new power plants, shifting financial risks away from electric companies to you and everyone else.

This rule change ignited a bonfire of risky spending — $40 billion so far on new power plants and upgrades…

Flush with your cash, utilities tried to build plants with unproven technology; they launched projects with unfinished designs and unrealistic budgets; they misled regulators and the public with schedules that promised bogus completion dates; they hid damning reports from investors and the public; they tried to silence critics and whistleblowers.


The AJC’s James Salzer has a must-read for retired teachers this morning:

A state board’s decision five years ago to change health insurance policies so that some recently retired educators would pay dramatically more for coverage is now the subject of a class-action lawsuit.

Some of the retirees — who have seen their rates about triple since they retired this year — argue in the lawsuit filed last week in Fulton County Superior Court that the Department of Community Health’s board broke a contract with them to provide the same state-subsidized insurance as other retirees.

“We just want to be treated fairly,” said Chuck Trader, a second-career Camden County teacher who retired over the summer and is a plaintiff in the lawsuit. “They have taken away what we’ve earned. Had a I known, I would have maybe not chosen to become a teacher.”

The lawsuit was filed about three weeks after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution first reported on the policy.


Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm will host a fundraiser this week for Democrat Stacey Abrams, running to be the first black female governor in U.S. history. The event will run you $100 to attend - and $5,000 to sponsor. Abrams faces Stacey Evans, another former state legislator, in the race for the Democratic nomination. (Greg Bluestein)

About the Author

Jim Galloway
Jim Galloway
Jim Galloway is a three-decade veteran of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution who writes the Political Insider blog and column.