Looking ahead to the 2020 congressional elections, Republicans are feeling pretty optimistic about maintaining their Senate majority. Not only are there few GOP incumbents in trouble, but Republicans also expect to pick up a Senate seat in Alabama currently represented by Sen. Doug Jones (D).
After all, from Republicans' perspective, Jones' special-election victory in late 2017 was something of a fluke. There's no way a Democrat could win in ruby-red Alabama under normal circumstances, and the only reason Jones narrowly prevailed is because he ran against disgraced former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore (R), whom voters simply could not stomach.
To flip the seat from "blue" to "red," the argument goes, all Republicans have to do is nominate someone who isn't Roy Moore.
Yeah, about that...
Roy Moore, the failed U.S. Senate candidate in Alabama who was accused of sexual misconduct by several women when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s, announced Thursday that he will run again for the seat."Yes, I will run for the United States Senate in 2020," Moore said, adding, "Can I win? Yes, I can. Not only can I, they know I can."
The right-wing Republican, who faced accusations of misconduct from nine women, said he intends to run a better campaign in 2020 by making "more personal contact" with voters.
Donald Trump, who twice failed to steer the Alabama race in his preferred direction, recently argued via Twitter that Moore "cannot win," and therefore shouldn't run. The president added that the "consequences will be devastating."
It's precisely why Democrats were so pleased with this afternoon's news.
Indeed, in February, Doug Jones effectively tried to taunt Moore into running again, seeing Moore as the Republican most likely to lose (again).
For his part, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who clearly hoped to avoid these circumstances, told the AP this morning, "He can do what he wants to, but we're certainly going to oppose him in every way."
It's worth emphasizing that Dems probably shouldn't get too excited, at least not at this point. It's possible, for example, that Moore will fall short in a GOP primary. It's also possible that former Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R), who used to hold this Senate seat, will try to reclaim it -- and if he does, he's very likely to succeed.
It's also possible that Moore could run and actually win the Senate race in 2020.
Having said all of that, Doug Jones' odds of holding onto that seat are a little better this afternoon than they were this morning, and Democrats are taking some comfort in watching so many Republicans reach for the antacids.