With friends like these, who needs Steve Bannon?
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) (pictured, right) gave a fairly candid assessment of the closely watched Alabama Senate GOP primary runoff on Tuesday afternoon, admitting his preferred candidate, appointed Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL) (pictured, left), was the underdog.
“Roy Moore is probably the favorite right now but it depends on turnout, the ground game,” Shelby told reporters in Washington on Tuesday. “If there’s a small turnout or an average turnout, a turnout like it was, Moore should win. A bigger turnout would probably favor Senator Strange.”
Shelby insisted high turnout would give Strange a “window to win,” and argued that it’s a “closer race than we think at the moment,” alluding to a spate of recent polls that show Strange, the establishment favorite, trailing firebrand former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore by a double-digit margin.
Strange is trailing in spite of a hearty endorsement from President Trump and close to $10 million in outside spending from allies of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Many Trump allies, including former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, are in Moore’s camp.
The race may be the first time that a Trump-endorsed candidate loses election since his nomination, and Republicans are widely concerned that it will pour fuel on the fire of the establishment-populist war already wracking the GOP.
Polls close at 8 p.m. ET in Alabama.