Roy Moore, the extremely anti-LGBT former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, has picked up a celebrity endorsement in his bid to become a U.S. senator.
Chuck Norris, who has starred in action movies and TV's Walker, Texas Ranger -- and is now mostly a right-wing columnist -- announced his endorsement of Moore today, CNN reports.
"Judge Roy Moore is the real deal: He's tough, tested, and has a spine of steel," Norris said in a prepared statement. "The Washington establishment knows they won't be able to count on him, but Alabama voters can. Judge Moore has never backed down from standing for what is right, and that's exactly what he'll do in the U.S Senate. That's why the Washington establishment is spending millions trying to defeat Judge Moore."
Moore responded with similarly admiring words, putting out a press release saying, "Chuck Norris is exactly the kind of guy you want on your side."
One issue on which Moore never backed down was marriage equality -- his resistance to it. He advised the Alabama's county probate judges, who are in charge of issuing marriage licenses, to ignore the U.S. Supreme Court's June 2015 ruling for nationwide marriage equality. Earlier that year, when a U.S. district judge ruled in favor of marriage equality in Alabama, he fought to keep that from going into effect as well.
He didn't succeed in these efforts, but he did get removed as chief justice because of them. A special court of retired judges removed Moore from that post in April, citing ethics violations related to his fight against marriage equality. The court's decision keeps Moore from serving the remainder of his term, which expires in 2019, when he'll be too old to run for the office again under Alabama law (members of the state's Supreme Court are elected, not appointed).
However, he won't be too old to run for Senate, and he's one of several Republicans vying to fill the seat vacated by Jeff Sessions when he became U.S. attorney general. Luther Strange, who had been the state's attorney general, was appointed by Alabama's governor to occupy the seat on an interim basis, but a special election is being held for Session's longer-term replacement. Nine Republicans and eight Democrats have filed to compete in party primaries August 15; if no candidate wins a majority of votes, there will be party primary runoff elections September 26. The general election will be December 12, and in the deeply conservative state, whoever is the Republican candidate is likely to win.
Moore announced his intention to run for Senate shortly after his ouster from the state Supreme Court. (He had been forced off the court once before, in 2003, over his refusal to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the court building, but was returned by voters in 2012.)
He actually has a good shot at the Senate nomination, The Hill reports. A recent poll by JMC Analytics showed Moore leading the Republican field with support of 30 percent of GOP voters, followed by Strange with 22 percent and U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks with 19 percent; other candidates were in single digits. A July poll by a company called Cygnal, though, showed Strange leading with 33 percent, followed by Moore with 26 percent and Brooks with 16 percent.
Strange has the support of a super PAC, the Senate Leadership Fund, which has ties to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. It has taken out ads attacking Brooks and, more recently, Moore. The anti-Moore ad, released last week, called out the jurist and his wife, Kayla Moore, "for taking salaries at the Foundation for Moral Law -- a charity founded by the Moores -- and spending lavishly on travel while Moore was still chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court," according to AL.com, a website for several Alabama newspapers. Moore campaign chairman Bill Armistead termed the ad "a massive distortion of the truth" by the "Washington establishment."
Armistead said the establishment may fear that Alabama will elect another conservative senator -- as if Moore's Republican opponents aren't solidly conservative -- but what they may fear is that Moore's too outrageously conservative to win the general election. In a career marked by opposition to LGBT rights and abortion, along with other far-right positions, some of his wilder statements have been that marriage equality will "literally cause the destruction of our country or lead to the destruction of our country over the long run"; that transgender people have a mental disorder; and that actions against opponents of marriage equality are similar to the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany.