Rarely does an election result in the Deep South mean as much to politicians in Southern California as a Democrat’s upset victory for the U.S. Senate in Alabama did this week.
The day after Doug Jones defeated scandal-ridden Republican Roy Moore in conservative Alabama, Democrats challenging vulnerable GOP officeholders in Orange and Los Angeles counties claimed new momentum Wednesday.
Democratic candidates for Congress wasted no time crafting online fundraising pitches around news of Jones’ victory, at least one trying to equate his Republican opponent to Moore and several calling the Alabama result a rejection of President Trump’s policies.
“It proves that no place is safe for Republicans like Roy Moore and Dana Rohrabacher — and the American people are ready to end the Trump era,” Harley Rouda, a Democrat running against Rep. Rohrabacher, R-Costa Mesa, said in an email to supporters.
Republicans said Democrats here shouldn’t draw too much hope from a race as unusual as the Jones-Moore race and from a place as different as Alabama is from California. The Alabama race turned after Moore was accused of sexual misconduct involving under-age girls.
In another possible note of caution for Democrats, experts said one thing Alabama proved is the vulnerability of candidates suspected of sexual misconduct. That could work against more Democrats than Republicans in Southern California. Two Democratic state assemblymen from the San Fernando Valley, Raul Bocanegra and Matt Dababneh, have resigned over sexual harassment or assault allegations, and at least one Democratic L.A.-area state senator, Tony Mendoza, is under investigation.
But most said there are implications here in the 49.9 percent to 48.4 percent win by Jones, a former U.S. attorney, over Moore, former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice, in the special election to fill the Senate seat of now-U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Bill Carrick, a veteran consultant for Democratic candidates, said a breakdown of Tuesday’s voting shows more of the trends seen in November elections for governor in Virginia and New Jersey, in which Democrats scored their first big victories of the Trump era. The Democratic base was energized, Carrick said, and the party gained support in suburbs and among college-educated voters — especially women — and voters not registered with either major party. Also, he said, exit polling showed Trump’s popularity in decline, with 48 percent viewing the…