Judge Roy Moore's victory in the Alabama Senate primary is a rebuke to incumbent Republicans. As a result, the GOP establishment that backed incumbent Luther Strange — led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and supported by President Donald Trump — now has to fear that Moore's victory is the beginning of something more ominous for their party.
"If you’re an incumbent, you have to assume the wind is against you," an adviser to retiring Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., told the Washington Post. "If you do run, you take nothing for granted and leave nothing on the table. You start out with one big strike against you: You’re an incumbent Republican senator."
There is evidence that this concern has impacted other incumbent Republicans, particularly the comparative moderates who have already announced they aren't going to seek reelection in 2018. These include Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, Rep. Dave Reichert of Florida, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida and Rep. Dave Trott of Michigan.
One dimension of the concern: Moore has a long history of making controversial comments and decisions which seem tailored to appeal to the far right fringe. In a debate earlier this month with Strange, Moore flat-out declared that "I want to see virtue and morality returned to our country and God is the only source of our law, liberty and government."
Moore has also been infamously prejudiced against homosexuals. In the past he has urged children be kept away from homosexuals, called for homosexual conduct to be made illegal, instructed judges to refuse to issue same-sex marriage licenses and argued that "homosexual behavior is a ground for divorce, an act of sexual misconduct punishable as a crime in Alabama, a crime against nature, an inherent evil, and an act so heinous that it defies one’s ability to describe it."
Moore is hardly the first Senate Republican candidate from the fringe right who has shocked the nation with his views. Sharron Angle in Nevada got into trouble during the 2010 election for telling Hispanic children that some of them looked like Asians; Todd Akin in Missouri incurred controversy during the 2012 election for saying that "legitimate rape" rarely leads to pregnancy; Richard Mourdock in Indiana also got in trouble during the 2012 election for an insensitive comment about rape and abortion; and, of course, one fringe Republican who made a series of crazy comments eventually became their presidential nominee in 2016 — Donald Trump.