On the same day that challenger Roy Moore over Sen. Luther Strange in a Republican primary runoff for the Senate, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) announced he would not run for re-election next year.
Political strategist Noel Fritsch said the timing was no coincidence.
"Roy Moore got two scalps," he said.
Fritsch said Corker, an Establishment Republican nearing the end of his second term, saw the handwriting on the wall. A survey conducted this month by Triton Polling & Research suggested that Corker was trailing by 15 points in a hypothetical matchup against Joe Carr, a former state representative who challenged Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) in 2014.
Indeed, conservative activists hope Moore's victory is only the first of a series of dominoes to fall across the country in GOP primaries next year. Moore, himself, said as much during a conversation with reporters following his primary victory.
"I think it will inspire people to run for office ... I think we need to change," he said.
First, of course, Moore needs to get elected. His defeat of Strange puts him only halfway to the goal line. In December, he must defeat Democrat Doug Jones, a former U.S. attorney under President Bill Clinton.
Jones told AL.com on Tuesday that he believes he will win.
"We believe we have the issues people care about which you have not heard any discussions about," he said.
Moore's last result in a statewide general election -- his win of less than 4 percentage points in the 2012 election for state Supreme Court chief justice -- lends credence to the argument that he could be vulnerable.
Experts Consider Moore a Favorite So far, however, political experts are not putting much stock in it. Sabato's Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, rates the seat as "likely Republican." Inside Elections analyst Nathan Gonzales wrote that Moore's victory does not jeopardize Republican control.
Even before Tuesday's results, retired Athens State University political science professor Jess Brown said he viewed Moore as the stronger general election candidate.
"There's now data to support that," he said, pointing to a recent Emerson College poll suggesting that Jones would run 6 points better against Strange than Moore in a hypothetical matchup.
Brown said Moore is well-positioned to run as a populist, not beholden to special interest money and not a child of privilege. And his social conservatism fits Alabama well, Brown said.
But Brown said the Democratic case would have been much easier to make against Strange, who attended an elite private school, worked for years as a corporate lobbyist and received millions of dollars in campaign donations and outside spending on his behalf.
"All of us who supported Judge Moore, we're going to act like we're behind."
Plus, Brown said, Strange would have carried all his "Bentley baggage" into the general election. That is a reference to one of Strange's major handicaps in the primary -- the fact that he got the appointment to the Senate from then-Gov. Robert Bentley, who at the time was under investigation for corruption by the Attorney General's Office that Strange ran.
Jim Zeigler, Alabama's colorful state auditor and an ardent Moore supporter, said he believes Moore will win in December. But he said the nominee's supporters should not take it for granted.
"All of us who supported Judge Moore, we're going to act like we're behind," he said.
Moore told reporters that he is confident.
"It's a race, and it's like any race," he said. "We're going to take it to the people of Alabama."
Moore added, "We don't want the liberal philosophy in Alabama."
Trump Praises Moore President Donald Trump, who endorsed Strange, praised Moore on Wednesday.
"Well, we have a man who's gonna be a great senator," he told reporters before leaving for a speech in Indiana on tax reform. "I'm very happy about that ... Roy ran a really great race."
The president also seemed to distance himself Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who also backed Strange and who has been the target of populist rage.
"They used him in the race," he said, referring to attacks on the Republican leader by Moore supporters. "And I was very honored by the way I was treated in the race. But they used him in the race."
Moore's campaign drew like-minded politicians from across the country. Chris McDaniel, a Republican who nearly knocked off Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) in 2014 and is considering a run against Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) next year, attended a campaign rally for Moore on Monday. Paul Nehlen, who unsuccessfully challenged House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) in the GOP primary last year and is running again next year, also attended that rally and watched Moore's victory speech in Montgomery on Tuesday.
Former Arizona state Sen. Kelli Ward, who unsuccessfully challenged Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) last year, sent Moore congratulations Tuesday night and suggested the populist anger that fueled his victory will spill over to her planned race against Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) next year.
Fritsch, the Republican political consultant -- who has worked with Nehlen -- told LifeZette that the Establishment is running into strong headwinds.
"No question in my mind this is absolutely going to continue," he said. "Millions of dollars from the Chamber [of Commerce] doesn't work anymore ... This is just getting started."
But Brown, the Athens State political scientist, said challengers will find it harder in other states because they will face incumbents who already have been tested by campaigns decided by voters.
"The reality is those other people are going to be what I call full incumbents," he said.