(c) 2017, The Washington Post.
SELMA, Ala. – With liberal star power, hustle and a multimillion-dollar spending advantage, Democrat Doug Jones launched a closing blitz in the U.S. Senate race in Alabama on Saturday, aiming to turn out the African American voters who make up the bulk of the state’s Democratic base.
His rival, Republican nominee Roy Moore, by contrast, completed his fourth consecutive day without a public campaign appearance. Moore, a former state Supreme Court chief justice, has scheduled only two events in the final week before Tuesday’s election. Both are rallies with former White House strategist Stephen Bannon.
Jones staged his first appearance of the day with African-American leaders here, at the church where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. began the 1965 civil rights march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
“Roy Moore is in hiding,” Jones said. “He’s kind of like the groundhog. He comes out every so often to see whether or not he can see his shadow. We’re out here and we’re talking.”
Jones was joined by former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick and local leaders. The Jones campaign also planned a Saturday night event with Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., who was going to campaign at Alabama State University in Montgomery, a historically black college.
There were also two get-out-the-vote concerts for Jones supporters Saturday night, one with Alabama-born songwriter Jason Isbell in Huntsville and a second with the soul-rock band St. Paul and the Broken Bones in Birmingham.
“It’s occurred to me in recent times that a lot of our democracy depends on unwritten rules,” Patrick, a possible presidential contender in 2020, said during the appearance in Selma. “We need more integrity and grace, more patience, more understanding and better listening from all of our leaders in every level of government, most especially in Washington.”
Although he has effectively paused his campaign, Moore has benefited from continued support from President Donald Trump, who called on Alabamians to vote for Moore at a rally Friday night in Pensacola, Florida, just over the state border.
“We can’t have a Pelosi/Schumer Liberal Democrat, Jones, in that important Alabama Senate seat,” Trump tweeted Saturday morning, referring to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. “Need your vote to Make America Great Again!”
On the airwaves, the Jones campaign continues to dominate the race. Highway 31, a Super PAC supporting the Democrat, reported spending $3.6 million on the race through Friday. By comparison, the two major outside groups supporting Moore, Proven Conservative PAC and America First Action, have reported spending about $126,000 and $1.1 million, respectively, through the same date.
Jones has raised about $11.6 million through Nov. 22, more than twice as much as Moore, who reported $5.2 million, including money he used for the two primary elections, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
“This is Alabama. A proud history with a bright future. But after this Tuesday, Alabama could become something very different,” says a narrator in the newest radio spot from Highway 31. “Don’t let Alabama’s good name be tarnished. Don’t wash it all away. Don’t let Roy Moore become Alabama.”
Both Highway 31 and America First Action have declined to disclose their donors, making use of Federal Election Commission rules that allow them to wait until weeks after the election to make the names public.
In one of Moore’s final television ads, the former Alabama Supreme Court justice casts the race as a different sort of referendum on the state.
“The same Washington insiders who don’t like President Trump are trying to stop our campaign,” Moore says in the ad. “They call us warmongers for wanting to rebuild the military. Racists for securing our borders. Bigots for recognizing the sanctity of marriage. And they call us foolish for believing in God.”
Polls show Moore with a slight advantage in the closing days of the race, and experts in both campaigns say the outcome probably will be decided by turnout. Jones, a former federal prosecutor known for prosecuting the Ku Klux Klan, has pinned his hopes on high turnout among African Americans, low turnout among conservatives, and persuading Republican-leaning women to vote for a Democrat.
At a news conference in Selma, Jones deflected a question about the accusations of sexual misconduct against his opponent, which Moore has denied. Five women have told The Washington Post that Moore pursued them in the late 1970s and early 1980s when they were teenagers. One woman, Leigh Corfman, said she was 14 and Moore was 32 when he took her to his house, gave her alcohol and touched her sexually. Moore has denied sexual misconduct.
Said Jones: “I’m not dealing with those accusations – that’s his issue, not mine.”
Instead, Jones spoke about the work his campaign is doing across the state, citing 1 million phone calls, more than 200,000 doors knocked on, and thousands of volunteers who braved an early Alabama snowfall to participate in last-minute get-out-the-vote efforts.
“I feel very confident that we’ve been reaching everybody,” Jones said.
The Moore campaign is largely staffed by volunteers, and for much of the final months of the race, his formal get-out-the-vote operation was put on hold after the Republican National Committee suspended support for his bid, eliminating 14 paid staff jobs in the state.
That support was reinstated in the last week of the campaign, at Trump’s direction. The national party transferred $170,000 on Tuesday to the state Republican Party to help elect Moore.
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Scherer reported from Washington.