It’s been just over a month since Democrat Doug Jones stunned the political world with his historic victory in Alabama’s special election to fill their vacant senate seat, and already the Republican party is making moves to prevent a repeat in the future.
Jones beat the embattled conservative champion Roy Moore, who himself upset Republican establishment and Trump-backed candidate Luther Strange in a hotly contested primary race that pitted the president against his former chief strategist, Steve Bannon.
For a generation, Republicans considered Alabama reliably conservative. Election after election it proved to be the reddest of Red states, and no Democrat had won a statewide race there since 1992.
With that aura of invincibility now gone, the sate GOP is desperate to erect obstacles to future Democratic candidates upsetting the balance any further. As The Hill reported late Tuesday, “The Alabama state House voted Tuesday to end special elections for appointments to U.S. Senate seats. The bill passed 67-31 on a largely party-line vote, according to the Montgomery Advertiser, despite a filibuster attempt from state House Democrats.”
The seat Doug Jones won opened up when then Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions left the senate to join the Trump Administration as Attorney General. Under current Alabama law, the state governor appoints a temporary senator until a permanent replacement is chosen by voters in a special election that must be called and scheduled as soon as logistically practical.
The new law will allow the replacement appointed by the governor to hold the seat until the next scheduled general election, which are held every two years. Depending on when the vacancy opens up in an election cycle, however, the ‘temporary’ appointment could serve as long as three years until Alabama voters get their say. That’s roughly half of a full senate term.
In a heavily Republican state that has a firm grip on both the governors mansion and the state house, there’s little doubt what political leanings that appointment would have. Alabamians have shown, however, they’re willing to vote for the right Democrat, and so the new bill effectively disenfranchises all voters in state by removing their ability to choose their own national representatives.
According to State Rep. Steve Clouse (R), who sponsored the bill, the new proposal has nothing to do with the historic Republican defeat. Citing the eleven million dollar cost the state incurred to hold the special election, Rep. Clouse told the Advertiser, “It has everything to do with the cost to the General Fund.”
The state’s senate will now take up the bill, where it’s fate is uncertain.