When the Tea Party Glove Doesn’t Fit

On Tuesday, MoJo‘s Adam Weinstein brought you the heartwarming story of Tim James, the Alabama businessman who, if his newest ad is any indication, is running for governor this year on a platform of dramatic pauses and DMV reform. Since then, James’s bizarro, race-baiting campaign ad

which was produced by the same guy who made DemonSheep

has gone viral and the candidate is reaping benefits from the conservative base.

James's ad is pretty awesome. But it might be only the second most interesting spot out of Alabama this month. That's because one of James's primary opponents, former 10 Commandments judge Roy Moore, just cut this track:


Catchy! As Moore's site explains: "The Judge's love for music steered him to step outside of the proverbial political ads, and be the first person running for office to utilize music as the sole message for his campaign." The message in this video is really about faith, not race, but still, it's not every day that you see a Republican primary candidate pander to black voters. The fact that Moore's opponent seems to be pandering to the xenophobic wing of his party makes the contrast between the two that much sharper.

But Moore is noteworthy for what his candidacy represents, not just its ads. As Stephanie Mencimer reported back in February, Moore entered the race as what you might call a "Tea Party candidate"; he was a featured speaker at the Tenth Amendment Summit, and his career has been singularly defined by its resistance to the federal government's authority. But James is also something of a Tea Party candidate. So is front-runner Bradley Byrne

The point, I guess, is that every Republican running for governor in Alabama this year should probably be considered a Tea Party candidate, which makes the label "Tea Party candidate" less than helpful if you're trying to tell them apart. Moore is a faith-based Tea Partier; James plays to cultural concerns. In reality, the Alabama race isn’t about who can win the Tea Party vote; it’s a matter of prioritizing the various grievances of the traditional conservative base.