How Roy Moore won the first battle of the anti-McConnell war

The central theme of Alabama’s Senate race has been anti-establishment backlash.

And it began before there even was a race.

Strange was Alabama’s attorney general when he was tapped by then-Gov. Robert Bentley to temporarily fill the seat of Sen. Jeff Sessions, after he was picked to be attorney general, until the state could hold a special election.

But Bentley was awash in a sex scandal that would soon force him out of office. And Strange’s potential role in prosecuting Bentley opened the door to questions about whether the two had struck some sort of deal to spare the governor from criminal charges.

When Moore and Rep. Mo Brooks entered the race in the spring, they made pointed reminders of how Strange had gotten the job a centerpiece of their campaigns.

“The cement had been poured on Luther Strange because of the former governor,” said Mississippi-based veteran Republican operative Austin Barbour.

“That was probably the biggest issue in this race for months — that voters in Alabama were so upset with Robert Bentley,” Barbour said. “And anybody that they associated with Robert Bentley, they didn’t want anything to do with.”