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Moore’s defeat means little in Texas

Profile image for Denton Record-Chronicle Editorial
Denton Record-Chronicle Editorial

Texas Democrats are heartened by the defeat of Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore in Alabama. They believe that Doug Jones' upset victory is a sign that Democrats in 2018 can win a statewide race in Texas for the first time since 1994.

"Tonight Alabama. Tomorrow Texas," Gilberto Hinojosa, the Texas Democratic Party chairman, tweeted out Tuesday night.

Maybe. Maybe not.

Roy Moore was a terrible candidate. In addition to eight women who accused him of sexually molesting them when they were teenagers, Moore was weighed down by his slurs against Jews, homosexuals, blacks and women. He even suggested that slavery might not have been such a bad system.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who is up for re-election next year, is a polarizing political figure -- reviled by Democrats, disliked by many moderate Republicans but respected by the GOP's conservative wing. But Cruz is not Moore. And his likely Democratic Party opponent, U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke of El Paso, is not well known among Texas voters.

As we approach the new year, none of the statewide Republican office holders up for re-election in Texas -- Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to name two -- have deficits as deep and wide as Moore had in Alabama. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who faces criminal charges related to stock fraud, is a possible exception.

We see no reason why Moore's defeat should significantly alter the trajectory of Texas politics. Most of the action, from top of the ballot to bottom, will take place in the Republican primary on March 3. If history is any indication, GOP nominees outside of urban counties will face only token opposition from Democratic nominees in the November general election.

Right now, most Texas voters are focused on getting ready for Christmas and many of them probably are not interested in detailed analysis of what Moore's defeat could mean to the U.S. Senate, which will now function with a razor-thin, 51-49 Republican majority.

For those voters who are interested in political analysis, take a look at what Moore's defeat means to President Trump and his populist adviser Steve Bannon. They both doubled-down on Moore and wound up losing.

Barack Obama weighed in with a last-minute robo-call to Alabama voters, encouraging them to vote for Jones, a moderate-to-liberal Democrat. In this case, one might say Obama defeated Trump.

Moore rode his horse to the polls to vote Tuesday morning. The image harkened back to the days before automobiles were invented. Alabama voters decided they wanted a U.S. senator more suited to 2018.