Will Alabama pick a Democrat over Moore? Suburbs will decide

It’s no secret that if Roy Moore is going to lose his race for U.S. Senate, it’s going to happen in Alabama’s suburbs. And on Friday, a day after allegations emerged that the outspoken Christian conservative had sex linked with a 14 -year-old girl decades ago, at the least a few Republican in one Birmingham suburb were having second thought about their party’s nominee.

“Really and truly, I cannot tell you what I’m going to do right now, ” said Carolyn Griffin of Calera, as she watched her dog Loxy exercise at Alabaster’s Veterans Park.

Griffin is the kind of voter who might be moved by the allegations, and suburban Shelby County is where other likeminded voters are situated. While Alabama might be called the Heart of Dixie, much of Shelby County is Anysuburb USA, with subdivisions and strip mall sprawling ever farther south along traffic-choked roads resulting out of Birmingham.

The accusations against Moore come as Democrat are feeling increasingly optimistic about their strength in suburb after Tuesday’s elections in Virginia, New Jersey and other races. Still, it’s a steep, steep climb in Alabama. No Democrat has won a U.S. Senate seat there since 1992, when Howell Heflin was elected.

Polls taken before The Washington Post’s story revealing the allegations against Moore proved the Dec. 12 race close or him with a slight lead but with less than 50 percentage of the vote, typically a warning sign for Republican in Alabama.

“There was a cosmo in Alabama that was uncomfortable with him, all while Republican were gaining in Alabama, ” Birmingham-based Democratic pollster John Anzalone said. “These accusations now give these voters a reason to vote against him or stay home.”

The 70 -year-old Moore, a former country Supreme Court judge, was twice removed from the Alabama Supreme Court, once for disobeying a federal court order to remove a 5,200 -pound( 2,359 -kilogram) granite Ten Commandments monument from the hall of the state judicial house and later for advising state probate judges to defy the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized lesbian marriage.

He has vehemently denied the allegations that he had sexual contact with a 14 -year-old girl and pursued three other teens when he was an assistant district attorney in his early 30 s. He called the report “completely false and misleading.”

David Mowery, an Alabama-based political campaign consultant who helped run a Democrat’s unsuccessful campaign against Moore in 2012, said the allegations against Moore are injury but aren’t inevitably a death blow.

“I think it hurts. It hurts because they are having to divert time and endeavour and probably fund into killing it, ” Mowery said. “Can they turn the page, so to speak, and turn it back to a D versus R thing? “

“There’s an old went on to say that the only style some nominees could lose is to be caught with a dead daughter or a live boy. Alabama is going to test the specs on that like ‘Hold my beer, ‘” Mowery said.

The state’s eight most populous counties have almost as many people as the other 59 combined, and those are among the areas where Moore was weakest in the primary against Sen. Luther Strange, appointed to the Senate on an interim basis after Jeff Sessions was elevated to U.S. us attorney general. Moore faces Democrat Doug Jones in the general election.

Former state Republican Party chairman Marty Connors said he expected the impact of the allegations to be concentrated in the suburbs.

“It will affect what I call your truly, truly moderate Republican voters, ” Connors said.

But not everyone in the suburbiums is ready to abandon Moore. Frank Pimintel, of Alabaster, said he viewed the allegations as part of a typical political smear campaign and wouldn’t magistrate Moore for something that happened more than 30 years ago.

“I’m about states’ rights, low taxes, local control. He stands for a lot of things that I believe in, ” Pimintel said.

That’s more along the lines of the reaction that Connors and retired University of Alabama political science professor Bill Stewart expect rural voters to have.

“In rural Alabama, they don’t seem to be putting a lot of stock in this story, ” Stewart said. “They don’t believe it.”

Connors said the accusations could even energize supporters, similar to how President Donald Trump survived audio of him boasting about groping women.

Mark Victory, of Alabaster, counted himself as still “tentatively in the Moore camp” after the claims.

Victory said he wants to support Trump’s agenda but might be swayed by more proof. If there is more proof, he said, his reaction would be to not vote at all.

“I’m not going to vote for his adversary, ” Victory said, “says hes” believes Jones is too submissive to the agenda of national Democratic leaders.

But moderate Republican not voting might not be enough for Jones, Stewart said, “given the intensity of Republican identification in Alabama.” Stewart still thinks Moore’s going to win, despite the allegations.

“I don’t think it matters enough to attain Jones the favorite to win, ” he said.

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Beaumont reported from Des Moines, Iowa. Associated Press writer Kim Chandler in Montgomery, Alabama, contributed to this report.

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