Why Roy Moore won't debate Doug Jones in Alabama

Image: Embattled GOP Senate Candidate In Alabama Judge Roy Moore Continues Campaigning Throughout The State
BIRMINGHAM, AL - NOVEMBER 16: Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Judge Roy Moore speaks as his wife Kayla Moore looks on during a news conference with...

Alabama's U.S. Senate special election is two weeks from today, and with polls pointing to a competitive contest, the red-state race has taken on national significance. This would ordinarily be the point at which local voters could expect to see the major party candidates debate one another on the campaign's major issues.

Except in Alabama, that's not happening. Doug Jones (D) has accepted debate invitations, but Roy Moore (R) has refused. It's worth pausing to appreciate why.

Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore said Friday that he is refusing to debate his Democratic opponent Doug Jones because of Jones's stance on transgender rights.In an interview with Sean Hannity on iHeartRadio, Moore said that Jones's "very liberal" stance on transgender issues was behind the decision to skip a debate."We've refused to debate them because of their very liberal stance on transgenderism and transgenderism in the military and in bathrooms. They are desperate," Moore told Hannity.

Take a moment to appreciate just how extraordinary this position is. Voters could benefit from hearing two U.S. Senate candidates discuss the issues, but Moore disagrees with Jones on civil rights, so therefore, there can be no debate.

In other words, Moore will only share a stage with candidates he agrees with, which suggests he may be a little confused about the whole point of debates.

For what it's worth, my hunch is that "transgenderism" is not the real reason Moore refuses to debate Jones. It seems far more likely that the right-wing candidate expects to win in ruby-red Alabama, and participating in a debate he's likely to lose creates an enormous risk.

Of course, the flip side is that Moore looks cowardly by ducking a debate, but it appears that's a price he's willing to pay.