- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 20, 2019

Controversial jurist Roy Moore, who lost Alabama’s Senate special election in 2017, announced a bid Thursday to try to win the seat in 2020.

His announcement had been expected, and the 72-year-old former state chief justice enters a crowded Republican field eyeing the chance to unseat Sen. Doug Jones, the Democrat who defeated Mr. Moore in the special election.

Republicans were dismayed by Mr. Moore’s move, arguing he’s the only person who could lose to Mr. Jones in a seat most analysts say should be a fairly easy GOP pickup.

But Mr. Moore, in announcing his bid, dismissed those jibes.

“Can I win? Yes, I can win,” he told backers.

Mr. Moore captured the GOP’s nomination in a bitter primary in 2017, then faced a massive national campaign of opposition, fueled by news reports of misconduct, specifically that he dated teen girls while he was a prosecutor in his 30s.

“Who will lead the ‘Pedophiles for Roy Moore’ coalition?” joked National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Chris Pack in a tweet Thursday.

Mr. Jones, 65, said whether he faces Mr. Moore or another Republican, their policies will be far-right.

“It’s clear that my opponent will either be an extremist like Roy Moore or another extremist handpicked by Mitch McConnell,” the senator said in a fundraising blast. “Putting another extremist in the Senate will only make things worse.”

Other Democratic senators, such as Montana’s Jon Tester, also pounced on Mr. Moore’s announcement as an opportunity for fundraising.

The GOP field includes Rep. Bradley Byrne from Mobile, former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville and state Rep. Arnold Mooney.

Mr. Byrne’s campaign quickly sent out reminders that he beat Mr. Moore in a Republican gubernatorial primary in 2010.

“Bradley is a fighter who has won contested primaries before and we are ready to win this fight,” said Seth Morrow, Mr. Byrne’s campaign manager. “Our campaign will win and defeat Doug Jones in 2020.”

Officially, the state GOP presented neutrality.

“The Alabama Republican Party has not commented, nor will, when a candidate announced their intentions to seek our party’s nomination in the 2020 U.S. Senate race,” said Republican state chairwoman Terry Lathan. “It is up to the candidates to make their case to the Republican primary voters to secure their support. The state party will remain neutral during the primary and run-off process.”

Nevertheless, Ms. Lathan offered a caveat.

“As the state with the highest statewide approval rating for President Donald Trump, choosing a nominee who supports his policies and can unseat Doug Jones will be an important part of the decision our voters ultimately make,” she said.

• James Varney can be reached at jvarney@washingtontimes.com.

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