With Moore behind Democrat Doug Jones in the polls, conventional wisdom seems to dictate that a loss in the special Alabama Senate election would signal the end of the cowboy candidate. But interviews with operatives close to the judge’s campaign, state representatives, and longtime Alabama politicos suggest otherwise.

Moore seems set up for another run in 2018. After all, the governor’s mansion always seemed like Plan B.

“From the beginning,” explained Republican state Rep. Jack Williams, “there was talk that if Moore fell short maybe he’d run for governor.” Long before he defeated incumbent Sen. Luther Strange, Williams said, the conventional political wisdom was that if “even if he fell short,” a close loss could set up a rebound for another statewide race. All the Moore memorabilia, fundraising, and messaging could be quickly repurposed for a governor’s race.