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Fate of the Union: Does America’s Future Rest in the Hands of Alabama Voters?

Larissa McCambridge

Posted on November 17, 2017 20:30

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Voters in Alabama will head to the polls December 12th to choose a replacement for former Senator and current Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Find out why this particular race has been so closely watched, and how both Parties are working behind the scenes to court, not constituents, but campaign donors.

With the runoff election to fill Attorney General Jeff Sessions's vacant senate seat less than two weeks away, and the Republican heir-apparent Roy Moore under fire for a growing number of sexual assault allegations, the race is heating up for the Democratic candidate Doug Jones. While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has called for Moore to leave the race, the chairwoman of the state Republican Party says its Senate nominee "deserves to be presumed innocent," according to The New York Times.

In the meantime, millions of dollars have been flowing to Democratic candidates in key races around the country, in advertising, campaign contributions and PAC money. The tactic seems to have found recent success in Montana, Virginia and New Jersey, where Democrats won upset victories in a sharp rebuke of the current administration.

The question now is, will that trend continue in a Deep South, Bible-Belt state that hasn't had a race this close in 20 years? And if so, could that then spell hope for Democrats looking to gain seats in next year's midterms, two years after even traditionally-blue states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin voted for Donald Trump?

The idea is to fight fire with fire.

As noted in Politico in October, there is a "growing number of Republican candidates who spent the first months of this year courting megadonors and even announcing their support before formally launching their campaigns."

In turn, political action committees like End Citizens United and Emily's List began endorsing candidates as early as last year, and big money donors like Michael Bloomberg and hedge fund billionaires Jim Simons and George Soros, who were among the top donors in the 2016 presidential election, have already made sizable contributions for the 2018 cycle.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (the congressional election arm of the Democratic Party) is also reportedly spending big, on ads targeting Republican candidates in 12 districts around the country. 

Even if democrats succeed in regaining control of Congress, or even just leveling the playing field at the state or federal level, I wonder what it is exactly they hope to achieve. Heading into 2018, we have a party at odds with its constituency, and a voter base disillusioned by the establishment’s lack of support for Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primaries. The Democratic Party also came under fire this year when it revealed its new campaign slogan – "A Better Deal" – which critics derided as stale and out-of-touch with the social issues that Democratic voters actually care about, such as immigration, healthcare, and racial equality.

On the one hand, they may be able to stem the recent tide of anti-everything legislation that's rolling back reproductive rights, immigration reform and police accountability. On the other hand, the only way they're likely to do that is through the same kind of big money politics and partisan gridlock that plagued the final years of the Obama administration, drawing ever more anger from the American public — on both sides.

Larissa McCambridge

Posted on November 17, 2017 20:30

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