About a year ago, Sen. Mike Lee was literally screaming on the floor of the Republican National Convention, begging the party to nominate someone, anyone, besides Donald Trump for president. On Monday in Alabama's Senate race, that same Utah Republican endorsed Judge Roy Moore — the southern manifestation of Trump.
"Alabamians have the chance to send a proven, conservative fighter to the United States Senate and I am more than ready to welcome a trusted ally," Lee wrote in a statement. "Judge Moore's tested reputation of integrity is exactly what we need in Washington D.C. in order to pass conservative legislation and protect the liberty of all Americans."
Thanks to that endorsement, Moore could join the Senate this November and Lee could soon come face-to-face with the legislative equivalent of the president he opposed.
While Lee didn't go into detail about his decision-making process, when he refused to endorse Trump in September 2016, his endorsement criteria was two-fold: "federalism and separation of powers." But minus the womanizing, Moore shares many of Trump's personal and political traits. Close your eyes, ignore the southern drawl, and the two sound almost the same.
Even without a seat in the Senate, Moore has already promised to oppose Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., attacking the majority leader for "repeatedly letting down the president's agenda." All the failures, Moore argued in a Newsmax interview, belong to a sluggish establishment, not an unfocused president.
That anti-McConnell bent makes sense politically for Moore who rode an anti-establishment wave to victory in the primary, not unlike the one that put Trump in office. It also makes sense personally. Like Trump, Moore was snubbed and openly opposed by GOP party leaders. Those political-personal motivations would make Moore a powerful wrecking ball, something of a southern "chaos candidate."
What's more the two don't sweat the little stuff like public policy or judicial precedent. During healthcare Trump just focused on deal-making instead of details and during his squabble with federal Supreme Court, Moore defied the high court because their gay marriage decision just didn't match his personal opinion. Cut from the same populist cloth, they go their own way — federalism or separation of powers or anything but their personal principles be damned.
Their brash crowd-pleasing belligerence made Moore a winning primary candidate. Now Lee's endorsement could secure that mini-Trump a seat in the Senate.
Philip Wegmann is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.