5 takeaways from Alabama earthquake

By Bill Press

We should have seen it coming. They didn’t generate a lot of news, but, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), 11 earthquakes had already hit the state of Alabama earlier this year. The last one, Nov. 25 in northern Alabama, registered 2.2 on the Richter scale.

But they were just the warmup act for the big earthquake that shook Alabama on Dec. 12. In a political upset nobody saw coming, Democrat Doug Jones defeated Republican Roy Moore to become the first Alabama Democrat elected to the U.S. Senate since 1990. And shock waves from that earthquake are being felt across the country.

Because of the serious allegations of preying on teenage girls leveled against Moore, no Senate race in recent history has received so much national media attention nor has made such an impact on both politics and policy. We’ll be sorting it out for years, but there are five immediate takeaways from the Doug Jones win.

1. Bad News for Trump

The biggest loser in Alabama was not Roy Moore. It was Donald Trump. He put his reputation on the line. He praised Moore and attacked Jones on Twitter. He held a rally for Moore supporters in Pensacola. He recorded a robocall for Moore. In effect, he said he’d rather see a sexual predator in the U.S. Senate than a Democrat. And he lost.

Nor is this the first time. It’s Trump’s fourth loss in a row: Kim Guadagno for governor of New Jersey; Ed Gillespie for governor of Virginia; Luther Strange in the Alabama GOP Senate primary; Roy Moore in the general election. Trump endorsed them all, and they all lost. Yes, even in Alabama, which he won in 2016 by 28 points. Trump has zero coattails, which will make it more difficult for him to pursue any legislative agenda and embolden Republicans up for re-election in 2018 to distance themselves from him.

2. Bad for GOP Agenda

It’s shameful how little Republicans have accomplished this year. Even though they control the House, the Senate and the White House, they’ve yet to pass one major piece of legislation. Until Dec. 12, it looked like tax cuts could be the one exception, but now even that could be in jeopardy.

Do the math. There are 52 Republican senators. Under reconciliation, they need at least 50 votes to pass a tax-cut bill. That means they can only lose two. Tennessee’s Bob Corker’s already a no vote. Any one of several Republicans still on the fence – Susan Collins, John McCain, Jeff Flake or Lisa Murkowski – could be the second. Add Doug Jones and the bill is dead. It all depends on whether Republicans can rush some version of a tax-cut bill through before Jones is sworn in.

3. Senate in Play

A year ago, if you told anybody that Democrats had a chance to win back the Senate in 2018, you’d have been laughed out of the room. But that opportunity is now a reality.

It’s still an uphill battle. There are 23 Democratic senators up for re-election next year and only eight Republicans. To wrest control from Republicans, Democrats have to pick up three seats. In Alabama, they’ve already won one that nobody expected. And now there are open or vulnerable Republican seats in Arizona, Nevada and Tennessee, where popular former governor Phil Bredesen’s running to replace Bob Corker.

4. Democrats Fired Up

In politics, there’s nothing like a big win to get everybody’s juices flowing. And in New Jersey, Virginia and Alabama, Democrats have had three big wins in a row – not counting 100 victories in mayoral, city council and state legislative races across the country. Call it the Resistance, or whatever. There’s no doubt that political momentum and resources today are with the Democrats.

Democrats go into 2018 with the wind at their backs, while Republicans will be forced to defend electing one sexual predator as president, supporting another sexual predator for Senate and accomplishing absolutely nothing in their first 12 months, except a tax bill that raises taxes on middle-class Americans.

5. MeToo Moment

Doug Jones’ triumph in Alabama is also a big win for women nationwide, especially those courageous women who’ve publicly come forward with their stories of sexual abuse in the workplace. They’re finally being taken seriously. They’ve already cost several sitting politicians their jobs, and now they’ve blocked an alleged child molester from serving in the Senate.

Some Republicans may not realize it yet, but all Americans, Republican and Democrat, are better off without Sen. Roy Moore.

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