- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The GOP establishment in Washington struck back Tuesday against rebel Republicans who pushed Roy Moore as their nominee in Alabama’s special Senate election, saying the insurgents cost their party a critical seat at a crucial time.

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon was the main target of the criticism, after he made Mr. Moore the test case for trying to select far-right nominees over more establishment-minded Republicans.

“This is a brutal reminder that candidate quality matters regardless of where you are running. Not only did Steve Bannon cost us a critical Senate seat in one of the most Republican states in the country, but he also dragged the president of the United States into his fiasco,” said Steven Law, CEO of the Senate Leadership Fund, which has close ties to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Mr. Moore, a twice-ousted former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, survived both a GOP primary and a runoff but lost a close race Tuesday to Democratic candidate Roy Jones.

Mr. Moore had always been a tough man to back for Washington Republicans, and the gap got worse in recent weeks after women came forward to say Mr. Moore pursued relationships with them when they were teens and he was a lawyer in his 30s.

“Tonight’s results are clear – the people of Alabama deemed Roy Moore unfit to serve in the U.S. Senate,” said Sen. Cory Gardner, chairman of the Senate GOP’s campaign committee.

SEE ALSO: Stunning win for Democrat Doug Jones in Alabama special election

Mr. Gardner had said the Senate should move to expel Mr. Moore if he’d been elected, and a number of top Republicans said they believed the women who detailed what they felt was Mr. Moore’s inappropriate behavior.

Mr. Bannon is now back at his old perch at Breitbart.com, which had relentlessly backed Mr. Moore in the election.

On Tuesday the site’s comment section became a battleground between Breitbart readers and Bannon opponents, who said he was responsible for misleading GOP voters.

“Your arrogance and stupidity lost us a reliable senate seat in ruby-red Alabama,” said a commenter identified as RS.

“I would never vote for liberal and will work my life to defeat them. But not here,” said another commenter, Kermit1964. “Here they blow smoke up your butt to make you feel good. Did you have an accurate picture of this race? Not from this site. This site was unicorns and rainbows with Moore strolling over a golden bridge to victory.”

Moore supporters, meanwhile, used the site to speculate that the race was stolen, and to blame GOP leaders in Washington for not doing more to help Mr. Moore.

McConnell did more than any other person, Democrat or Republican to contribute to Moore losing,” said one commenter.

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