- The Washington Times - Monday, January 8, 2018

Roy Moore’s election loss is in the books but the fallout is still roiling Alabama Republicans, who were deeply divided over the flawed candidate they put forward — and voters rejected.

The state party’s old-school conservatives stuck with Mr. Moore amid reports of sexual assault and that he pursued sexual relationships with teen girls while he was in his 30s, even as younger Republicans balked, withdrawing their support.

Now the old guard is mulling over payback, with one Republican suggesting the Young Republican Federation of Alabama, or YRFA, should lose its seat on the state GOP’s 21-member steering committee.

The main combatants have gone quiet ahead of a pivotal party meeting in late February.

Gina Grant, head of the Talladega Republicans and the sponsor of the attempt to strip the young Republicans of their seat, didn’t respond to repeated requests to talk from The Washington Times. Neither did Jackie Curtiss, chairwoman of the Young Republican Federation of Alabama.

But the youth group is still pursuing the battle over election blame online, recently taking to Facebook to post a meme of a cartoon of a dog sitting inside a burning building with a speech bubble that says “This is fine.” Above the Facebook post it read: “Republicans who think we need more candidates like Roy Moore.”

“I can guarantee you there will be another fight somewhere for sure,” said Cody Holt, a member of the Birmingham Young Republicans, an arm of the YRFA. “For a long time after we pulled our support for Roy Moore there was a feeling we had a target on our back and getting stripped of that seat was a real possibility.”

Ms. Grant’s attempt to strip the young Republicans of their seat has been put on hold, but could resurface during the Alabama GOP’s two-day winter meeting in Montgomery, which is set to kick off on Feb. 23.

Terry Lathan, chairwoman of the state Republican Party, declined to talk on “internal” party matters.

As questions surged about Mr. Moore ahead of the election and Republicans in Washington urged him to drop out, the GOP steering committee announced it was sticking by the embattled candidate.

The Young Republican Federation of Alabama, though, went in the opposite direction, calling on Mr. Moore to step aside if he was unable to refute all the allegations against him.

Ms. Lathan downplayed the break prior the election on Twitter, saying the decision was out of line with the base of the party.

Things have been “very tense” since, according to Mr. Holt, who said members of the older generation feel betrayed by the younger folks’ decision to distance themselves from Mr. Moore. Meanwhile, the younger Republicans feel the party embarrassed itself by sticking with Mr. Moore.

“The state party still hasn’t apologized,” Mr. Holt said. “They haven’t acknowledged the fact that they had a terrible candidate.”

Exit polls showed Democrat Doug Jones had a 23 percentage point edge among voters between the ages of 18 and 44. Mr. Moore enjoyed a 10 point lead among voters at least 45 years of age.

David Wisdom, a member of the Greater Birmingham Young Republicans who co-hosts a “Young Alabama” podcast, said both sides need to look for common ground, and warned against party payback.

“It is just not smart to alienate the younger portion of your voters because of down the road,” Mr. Wisdom said. “I am thinking about the party’s health 20 or 30 years from now, and if we alienated the young people now we will not have party.”

The fight is similar to a battle within the Alabama GOP five years ago after Stephanie Petelos, then-chair of the Alabama Federation of College Republicans, publicly embraced same-sex marriage in the wake of a Supreme Court decision striking down key parts of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Ms. Petelos said more people would come out in favor of same-sex marriage if “they didn’t live in fear of backlash from party leaders.”

The party responded by taking up a proposal that would bar any member of the steering committee from staking out positions that run contrary to the GOP platform, including on traditional marriage.

The effort, which ultimately failed, was backed by then state party chairman Bill Armistead, who went on to become Mr. Moore’s campaign manager.

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