The Republican National Committee isn’t exactly scrambling the jets for controversial Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore after all.
The committee has agreed to give just $50,000 to the Alabama Republican Party and will not send any staff in to help Moore in the final week of his campaign after a lengthy series of negotiations with Alabama Republicans, two RNC committee members tell TPM.
“The party is giving money only to the state party of Alabama at the request of the three national committee members of the state and the governor, and they’re giving them $50,000 — no staff, just $50,000,” one RNC committee member told TPM, saying those decisions came after “a lot” of negotiations with the Alabama members as well as within the committee.
In the extended negotiation both of Alabama’s Republican National Committee members, Alabama GOP Chair Terry Lathan and Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) all lobbied the RNC to come back in to help Moore. The national party had previously pulled its support and ended a joint fundraising account after multiple women accused Moore of sexual misconduct last month. The RNC’s final commitment to come back in for Moore didn’t occur until President Trump decided to reaffirm his endorsement Monday.
“The 50k is going to AL GOP,” another RNC committee member texted TPM, while confirming that Ivey and the trio of Alabama’s RNC committee members had lobbied RNC Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel and the national party to support Moore. “No RNC staff going to AL.”
That sum is a pittance in the realm of modern campaign funding, especially coming just a week before the election. The RNC’s decision not to send staffers also means it won’t help Moore in the biggest way it could, with a huge push to boost turnout for him using field staff. Those moves suggest that the RNC is doing the bare minimum to help Moore that it can get away with in light of Trump’s re-endorsement while attempting to keep its local members happy.
Moore has been outspent by Jones by a 10-to-1 margin, and a late infusion of cash and staff could help him close the gap and hang on to win in deep-red Alabama.
The RNC seems to be taking a much different approach than the president. Trump called Moore Monday morning to declare he’s still in Moore’s corner in spite of allegations from nine women that Moore acted inappropriately, including one who said he sexually assaulted her when she was 16 years old and another who said he initiated a sexual encounter when she was just 14. While the White House has said Trump won’t head to Alabama for Moore before the election, he will campaign just over the state line in Pensacola, Florida, on Friday night in a town whose media market covers much of the southern third of Alabama. Trump allies including Steve Bannon are heading to the state to stump for Moore in the race’s closing days as well.
Moore has crept back into the race since Thanksgiving after the allegations knocked him flat, according to public and private polls, and those involved in the race believe both he and Democrat Doug Jones have a real chance to win.
Moore’s candidacy has torn the GOP apart, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) walking back an earlier demand that Moore drop out of the race over the weekend and other Republicans lamenting Trump’s decision to come back in for Moore. Win or lose, he’s almost certain to create headaches for party leaders.
Spokesmen for the Republican National Committee did not respond to requests for comment, while Lathan told TPM in a text message that she “will not comment on the amount of funds” but planned to release a statement soon about the RNC’s recommitment to the race.
In that statement, Lathan said Romney McDaniel had contacted her and “confirmed that the RNC is transferring funds to the Alabama Republican Party for the Roy Moore campaign.”
“We are grateful for the RNC’s partnership with the ALGOP in this race. We are also thankful for President Trump’s recent show of support in highlighting the major policy differences between the left-wing Democrat, Doug Jones, and the constitutional conservative, Republican Roy Moore,” she continued.
Another Alabama Republican close to the negotiations disputed the $50,000 figure, arguing it was still in flux and predicting their spending might end up being more than that.
“I consider it more development and investigation than negotiation,” that source said about the party’s offer, sardonically describing the RNC’s “exodus” from Alabama after Moore’s scandal broke amounted to just three staffers.
That source also downplayed the RNC’s ability to help bolster Moore’s limited field operations in the final week.
“I’m not asking for staffers, it’s too late in the game,” said the source, who said the RNC had reached out to the Alabama state party about possibly helping and that Alabama Republican National Committeeman Paul Reynolds had called them back after Trump called Moore Monday morning to push them to make good on previous commitments for help.
It remains to be seen whether the committee will end up doing more for Moore than this minimal support. But for now, it doesn’t appear the cavalry is riding to Alabama.