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- Democratic Senate candidate Doug Jones is closing in on a scandal-embroiled Roy Moore in Alabama’s special election.
- Democrats are walking a fine line in bolstering Jones because an appearance of outside influence from Washington could have an inverse effect.
WASHINGTON — After several women came forward with sexual misconduct allegations against Roy Moore, the Republican lead in the Alabama special Senate election has all but evaporated, placing Democrat Doug Jones in prime position to flip one of the deepest red seats in the country.
But Democrats are playing it cool, leaving all aspects of the campaign to Jones’s in-state operation. An armada of national field staff and piles of outside money could do more harm than good in a political climate fed up with the Washington establishment.
“We don’t have to focus on that,” said Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin of adding additional resources to the race. “The rest of America is.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer also played down the national party’s role in Alabama, telling reporters in a Monday press conference that “it’s an Alabama race.”
“When they ask us for help, we’ll do it,” Schumer said. “But it’s been an Alabama race. Period.”
Montana Sen. Jon Tester, who chaired the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee last cycle, said flipping an Alabama seat “would be huge” for the Democratic Party, but that “it’s better to have a race run by home.”
“But I’m telling you, even in my race, there’s a ton of money from outside the state that comes in,” Tester added, noting high profile races’ propensity for outside influence. “Just like in every state.”
Tester’s claim about the inevitability of outside influence is proving to be correct. Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Joe Donnelly, and others sent fundraising emails to supporters on behalf of Jones on Monday evening. On Tuesday, the California-based Daily Kos announced a $ 100,000 cash haul for Jones from 4,000 individual donors in just five days.
And the Alabama race could function as a dry run for flipping Republican seats because the influx of controversial GOP candidates like Moore provides a lane for Democrats to gain broader appeal, according to Durbin.
“It’s not a state that we would put on the list of possibilities but it’s an indication of the upheaval in American politics and of President Trump,” Durbin said. “And the fact that with Steve Bannon playing his cards, they’re could be more candidates in the future who are very controversial.”
“I could tell you without naming names, there are states where Republicans up for reelection who were considered so safe, we didn’t even talk about them, who tell me privately they are wondering if Bannon and Breitbart are gonna come after them in the primary,” Durbin added. “And we could see repeats of this Alabama scenario in a lot of very very red states.”