Alabama's Special Senate Election--Student Views...

Dec 12, 2017

Alabama will elect its next junior senator today in an election that pits former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore against former U.S. Attorney Doug Jones. Opinions about both candidates fall all over the board across the state. That includes students on campus at the University of Alabama. APR Student Reporter Allison Mollenkamp has more….

“Roy Moore is a religious zealot, I mean, he’s kind of insane…” says Chandler Gory, a political science and journalism major from Birmingham. “I mean the whole thing with the being a pedophile and the Washington Post and I mean Roy Moore pretty much runs counter to everything I believe in.”

Gory is on one side of a spectrum full of strong feelings. Next, we hear from Cole Pruitt. He’s an aerospace engineering major from Tuscaloosa.

“I understand that these allegations came out about him and these women but some of them have proven to be false," says Pruitt. "So, I don’t think I would believe it.”

Pruitt is referring to several women who allege Moore committed acts of sexual misconduct. The list includes attempted rape and child molestation. Moore denies the allegations, but none of them have been disproven.

Pruitt isn’t convinced

“They did it about a month before the election and they’re like ‘Oh, hey, he uh, he kind of like was messing with me.’ And I’m like ugh. It’s a little hard to believe.” Pruitt has decided not to vote in the election. Among UA students, he won’t be the only one. With growing out-of-state enrollment, UA has many students who are registered in other states.

That includes Jack Kitchen. He’s a political science major. “I’m a registered Republican in Louisville Kentucky. However, I have a lot of problems with Roy Moore, the Republican candidate," says Kitchen. "As I understand it there is a write-in candidate who’s currently announced his candidacy, a former marine. I think if I could vote I’d probably vote for him.” Kitchen’s stance on Moore is influenced by religion. “I feel as though he abuses some of the core tenants of the Christian faith and kind of mixes them in with this political beliefs in a way that I just frankly do not agree with," he says. 

Religion also draws some voters to side with Moore. Jackson Broadfoot, a biology major from Danville Alabama, plans on voting for Roy Moore. “I do like Moore’s stand for evangelical purposes. I do think he goes about it sometimes in the wrong way. But I do like his stances on same-sex marriage and believing that abortion is wrong.”

Abortion has been an important issue drawing voters to Moore’s campaign. On the other side of the ledger, though, are his two removals from office. Hunter Hammock is an international studies major from Northport. He explained why he thinks Moore isn’t qualified for office.

“He has no respect for the separation of church and state, or any religion and the state for that matter. He does not respect the rule of law. If you look at some of the cases he ruled on, he does not have his own legal precedent. When he ruled on things he would always judge by how the world ought to be, quote unquote. And that’s why he was removed from office twice.”

Moore was kicked out for refusing a federal court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the State Judicial Building. He was re-elected, but suspended after allegedly telling Alabama’s county probate judges to ignore the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision legalizing gay marriage.

We reached out to UA’s College Republican group, but they declined to comment. The campus Democrats had a lot to say. Here’s Chandler Gory again. “I just think Doug Jones is good for Alabama. I agree with his stances on the issues. Second amendment he’s a pretty big supporter of that and I’m not so much, but, I mean, a democrat from Alabama you have to be willing to make some sacrifices. But yeah, I think Doug’s a good candidate. I think he’s a good guy. And I think he’d made a good senator.”

Hammock sees a better future for Alabama with Jones in the Senate. “Alabama is one of the poorest, unhealthiest, least educated states in America. Doug Jones realizes that we need to put those days behind us.” Hammock was also the only person I interviewed who thinks Jones will win the election. Everyone else thinks Alabama will stick to its party line and send Moore to Washington.

Catherine Holler is an English and Art double major from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Her outlook isn’t particularly hopeful if Moore wins. “It’s hard to say what exactly what I’d do when the political dominoes just keep falling against us. It’s like, ‘Oh, can’t claw out of here.’ What can you do when someone has so much more power than you?”

But the College Democrats haven’t given up yet. They spent one of their recent meetings phone banking for Jones.  The College Democrats also plan on offering students rides to the polls. Chandler Gory has a message for all Alabama voters. “Voting is important so no matter who you vote for you should exercise your constitutional right to vote because not all countries have that right.” The months of campaigning comes to an end today and with many polls neck and neck. It’s pretty much anyone’s guess who will be Alabama’s junior U.S. Senator come tomorrow.