I was worried that Alabama Republicans might be left next year without the option on the ballot of a hugely unpopular populist saddled with scandal baggage involving underaged girls.

Thankfully my fears have now been eased.

The “Draft Jeff Sessions” movement begins today.

“I will run for the U.S. Senate in 2020,” Moore said at an event in Montgomery, Ala., “Can I win? Yes, I can win.”…

“Why is there such a fear, such an anger to somebody running. The mere mention of my name causes people to get up in arms in D.C. Is it because I’m a staunch conservative? Is it because I believe in God, marriage, morality? Is it because I believe in the right of the baby in the womb?” Moore, 72, told reporters and supporters in making his announcement…

Alabama’s senior Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R) echoed Trump’s concerns Wednesday, ahead of Moore’s campaign announcement and said he would not support him.

“There are a lot reasons known to you and everybody else,” Shelby said. “I think Alabama could do better. I think he would be a disrupter. I think we can win that seat back as the Republicans but I won’t support him.”

Hats off to a guy who blew a special election in one of the reddest states in the country for believing that Washington — including Trump — opposes him because he’s too “staunchly conservative.” But, as I’ve said before, I do think he’s right that he can win a general election next year with Trump at the top of the ballot. He barely lost to Doug Jones in 2017. Trump should be able to drag anyone, Moore included, across the finish line if he has to in a year with turnout at presidential-election levels.

But he and his family really, really, really don’t want to. And they haven’t been shy about saying so. Including again this afternoon:

I continue to believe that Moore can’t win another primary in a runoff state like Alabama. He can win a plurality in the first round and advance again to the runoff, but the nightmare of 2017 has to — has to — mean that 50.1 percent of Alabama Republicans will gamble on a different candidate if forced to choose between that candidate and Moore next year. They’re not going to throw good money after bad with a six-year term for Jones on the line this time. Especially with the Trumps campaigning for some alternative (Sessions?) in the primary.

Here he is this afternoon making his announcement. Exit question: Would McConnell attempt to expel Moore from the Senate on scandal grounds if he wins — and, if so, would he say that upfront during the primary, making it a campaign issue? That might backfire, after all, by handing the populist Moore another credential to tout how much the establishment hates him. McConnell declared Jones “not fit” to serve two years ago but conceded that, under Supreme Court precedent, the Senate couldn’t refuse to seat Moore if he had defeated Jones. But there’s always the possibility of an ethics investigation and expulsion from the chamber. If, that is, Trump didn’t vocally oppose it. Which he almost certainly would once the seat has been safely won, with Moore promising to be a loyal Trumpian soldier in the Senate.