By: Robert Costa
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 and undermine Trump’s clout with his core voters.
The GOP primary victory by conservative firebrand Roy Moore over Sen. Luther Strange could also produce a stampede of Republican retirements in the coming months and an energized swarm of challengers.
It marked yet another humiliation for the Washington-based Republican establishment, particularly Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), whose allies pumped millions of dollars into the race to prop up Strange and reassure his colleagues that they could survive the Trump era.
Moore’s win, however, also demonstrates the real political limitations of Trump, who endorsed “Big Luther” at McConnell’s urging and staged a rally for Strange in Huntsville, Ala., just days before the primary. The outcome is likely to further fray Trump’s ties to Republicans in Congress, many of whom now fear that even his endorsement cannot protect them from voter fury.