- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 10, 2017

Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is leading the GOP field in Tuesday’s special election primary race in Alabama, according to a new poll that suggests he is well positioned to advance to a runoff race this fall.

The survey from Cygnal and L2 found Mr. Moore leading interim Sen. Luther Strange by a 30.7 percent to 22.6 percent margin and that Rep. Mo Brooks is running in third place with 18.1 percent of the vote.

Unless a candidate secures more than 50 percent of the vote in the primary next week, the top two vote-getters will face-off in a Sept. 26 contest.

“I expect Moore and Strange in the runoff election, but Strange hasn’t locked down the second spot yet,” said Brent Buchanan, president of Cygnal.

President Trump shook up the race earlier this week when he endorsed Mr. Strange, who was appointed to the seat after Sen. Jeff Sessions, who served for four terms, vacated it to become attorney general.

“It will be interesting to see if President Trump’s endorsement of Sen. Strange increases voter turnout, which should favor Strange according to our survey results,” Mr. Buchanan said.

Certainly, Mr. Strange was trying to make the most of Mr. Trump’s endorsement, rolling out new radio and television ads Thursday casting him as the “Trump man” in a GOP race

“President Trump says Luther Strange is the best conservative to pass our agenda, tweeting ‘Luther Strange has done a great job representing the great state of Alabama,’” the narrator says in the television ad. “‘He has my complete and total endorsement.’”

The race in Alabama has become a contest over who will be Mr. Trump’s biggest ally, with each of the candidates pledging their support for the president’s agenda.

“Others attack our president, I am fighting with him to drain the swamp and repeal Obamacare,” Mr. Strange says in the television ad.

Mr. Strange’s new radio ad highlights comments Mr. Brooks has made in the past criticizing Mr. Trump.

Mr. Brooks has the backing of several high-profile conservative groups and commentators, including the Senate Conservatives Fund, the Madison Project, and pro-Trump broadcasters Sean Hannity and Mark Levin.

But he also has been on the receiving end of some sharp attacks from groups aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, that are supporting Mr. Strange.

Thursday’s poll showed Mr. Moore has the highest favorability rating, coming in at 55.9 percent, versus 46.2 percent for Mr. Strange and 38.8 percent for Mr. Brooks.

And it showed that Mr. Moore would best Mr. Strange by 10 points in a head-to-head match-up.

Whoever wins the Republican primary likely will be favored in Dec. 12 general election in conservative Alabama, but will have to defend the seat again during the 2020 electoral cycle.

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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