Tim Murphy

Tim Murphy

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Tim Murphy is a senior reporter at Mother Jones. Email him with tips and insights at tmurphy@motherjones.com.

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Judge Roy Moore's "Rock," in 2005.

Since being thrown out of office in 2003 for refusing to take down a granite-monument to the Ten Commandments that he'd installed on the steps of the state supreme court, former Alabama chief justice Roy Moore has:

Now he wants his old job back. On Tuesday, Moore will vie with two other candidates for the Republican nomination for a spot on the Alabama supreme court. He will, the Mobile Press-Register reports, ride his horse to the polling station—a venture that's consistent with his theme of returning Alabama to the 19th century and comes just nine months after he broke several ribs in a riding accident (no word on whether it's the same horse).

The race has, understandably, not received as much attention as the GOP presidential primary at the top of the ballot, but judicial elections are serious business, and Moore's no ordinary candidate. His judicial philosophy of a Christian nation, divinely inspired, has endeared him to Teavangelicals and Tenth Amendment activists over the last few years—a not insignificant swath of the electorate in Alabama. (Tellingly, Moore's opponents have been reluctant to criticize Moore for his handling of the Ten Commandments incident on the campaign trail.)

So can he win? The Press-Regiser surveys the race and concludes that he stands a pretty good chance of making it the next round (if no candidate gets a majority of the vote, the top two advance to a special runoff election), but probably no further:

A handful of political experts surveyed last week agreed that Moore's committed base of support could ensure that he makes a runoff. But consensus was that he remains too controversial to win. 

"I think the conventional wisdom is Roy has his 30 percent of the vote he’s going to get regardless of who his opponent is," said John Carroll, the dean of the Cumberland School of Law at Birmingham's Samford University. "I think it's much more likely he could push one of the other two out of a runoff. I view this (primary) as a way to sort that out between the other two, which I think is unfortunate, but that’s the way politics works in Alabama."

In a runoff, Carroll said he is confident that either incumbent Chuck Malone or Mobile County Presiding Circuit Judge Charles Graddick would defeat Moore head-to-head.

Either way, I'd suggest you take 20 minutes today to read Josh Green's definitive profile of a recently defrocked Judge Moore cruising the state with his Ten Commandments rock in 2005.

On Friday, in an attempt to demonstrate once more that he's a totally normal humanoid with wide-ranging cultural interests, Mitt Romney published a playlist of his favorite music from the campaign trail. The mix, which you can find on his Facebook page and the music app Spotify, includes a mix of country, oldies, top-40, and whatever you'd call Kid Rock.

It also includes "The M.T.A.," a song by the Kingston Trio that has likely never appeared within a 40-track radius of Kid Rock. It goes a little something like this:

This was one of my favorite songs growing up, with the unintended consequence being that I developed an acute and highly irrational fear of subway turnstiles (something I'm sure Romney and I have in common). The thought of Romney blasting the Kingston Trio's rendition of "M.T.A." on his campaign bus, feet tapping, head bopping, over and over and over again, actually makes him seem kind of—what's the word here—human.

I'd just add that "M.T.A." (otherwise known as "Charlie on the M.T.A.") is a song about a Boston man who embarks on what is supposed to be a smooth and uneventful ride, gets in over his head, becomes trapped, and is forced to have his wife try to bail him out. She fails and he's then doomed to spend the rest of his life trapped in an endless loop, eating sandwiches. So there's that.

Update: Here's the full mix.

I am a Man of Constant Sorrow — The Soggy Bottom Boys

Read My Mind — The Killers

December, 1963 (Oh What a Night) — Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons

Ring of Fire — Johnny Cash

Somebody Told Me — The Killers [Ed note: Mitt is apparently friends with singer Brandon Flowers. Right?]

The MTA (The Boston Subway Song) — The Kingston Trio

Good Vibrations — The Beach Boys

Desperado (Live) — Clint Black

Crying — Roy Orbison

Only You (Long Version) — Commodores

Runaway — Del Shannon

It's Your Love — Tim McGraw

As Good as I Once Was — Toby Keith

Born Free — Kid Rock

Over The Rainbow — Willie Nelson

Stardust — Nat King Cole

In Dreams — Roy Orbison

Somebody Like You — Keith Urban

All-American Girl — Kerry Underwood

Dennis Kucinich Goes Down in Ohio. Now What?

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio)

You may have missed it amid Newt Gingrich's ruminations on algae and the Romney-Santorum nail-biter in Ohio, but there was a Super Tuesday result with serious ramifications for progressive politics: In the Democratic primary in Ohio's 9th Congressional District, Rep. Marcy Kaptur knocked off Rep. Dennis Kucinich by double digits, putting the political future of one of Washington's loudest liberal voices in serious doubt. Again.

Kucinich, who sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004 and 2008 largely on an anti-war platform, was drawn out of his old Cleveland district during the state's redistricting process (the state lost two seats after the 2010 census), ending up in a primary against Kaptur, a 15-term Democratic incumbent. The resulting, excessively gerrymandered 9th district hugs Lake Erie, stretching from Toledo, where Kaptur lives, all the way to Cleveland, Kucinich's home. (Shira Toeplitz notes, "The district is connected by a bridge that's only 20 yards wide, as well as by a single beach at one point.") Kucinich took his best shots at Kaptur—alleging, for instance, that her campaign had illegally stolen all of his yard signs. But he faced a different set of voters, most of whom he'd never previously courted—and not even Russell Simmons could save him:

In his eight terms in Washington, Kucinich held down the far-left of the House Democratic caucus and built up his national profile in tandem. He famously called for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney, then took things a step further last spring, suggesting that President Obama's imposition of a no-fly-zone in Libya might also be an impeachable offense. He held out for months on health care reform because of his support for the public option.

But while Kucinich's rhetoric has been unwavering, his record of accomplishments is relatively small. Kaptur is pro-life and votes accordingly, but otherwise holds fairly conventional liberal views for a Rust Belt Democrat. She's also never traveled solo to meet with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, and then defended him to her hometown paper.

The question now is what Kucinich will do next. Over the course of his career he's demonstrated a remarkable ability to come back from crushing defeats. He lost three congressional races before he was 30, and was already a washed-up ex-mayor at 35. After moving to California for a brief period of soul searching, he ran unsuccessfully for two more statewide offices, moved to New Mexico for some more soul searching—and then came home and won a House seat. If believes he still has more work to do in Washington, the odds are pretty good he'll try to find a way to stay there.

Case in point: Before opting to stay at home last year, Kucinich publicly contemplated moving to Washington state to run for a seat there. In an interview with Politico last week, his campaign spokesman, Andy Juniewicz, pointedly refused to rule out the possibility that Kucinich might exercise the Evergreen option should he come up short against Kaptur. (According to Public Policy Polling, just 22 percent of Washington state Dems want Kucinich to run for office in their state.) He has until May 18 to declare his intentions. Who knows, we may not have seen the last of Dennis Kucinich.

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