Democrat Doug Jones Defeats Republican Roy Moore In Alabama Senate Race
Updated at 10:35 p.m. ET
Democrat Doug Jones has won the Alabama Senate special election, according to The Associated Press. The victory is a stunning upset in a deeply red state that voted overwhelmingly for President Trump, who backed Republican Roy Moore explicitly in the final days of the campaign despite multiple accusations of sexual misconduct and assault.
The win by Jones is sure to send shock waves through Washington. The special election to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions was upended last month as multiple women came forward to say Moore had pursued them romantically as teenagers when he was in his 30s. Some alleged he had sexually assaulted them, including one woman who said he had initiated sexual contact with her when she was just 14. Moore has denied the accusations.
The unfolding controversy made what should have been a safe GOP race anything but. It's the first Democratic Senate victory in the state in 25 years.
President Trump had come to Moore's defense, casting doubt on the women's allegations — much like he has with the multiple women who accuse him of sexual assault. While Trump didn't campaign with Moore, the president did hold a rally just across the border from Alabama in Pensacola, Fla., on Friday evening and recorded a robocall on his behalf, urging voters to choose Moore because he will support his agenda in the Senate. And after Trump endorsed Moore last week, the Republican National Committee reinstated its financial support for the GOP nominee after pulling it following the accusations.
Other national Republicans had been far less hospitable. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he believes Moore's accusers and called on him to step aside, though he has softened his stance in recent weeks by saying the choice is up to Alabama voters. National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Cory Gardner, R-Colo., who is in charge of protecting the GOP's Senate majority in 2018, withdrew funding from Moore's campaign and at one point said he should be expelled from the Senate if he wins.
Even the state's senior GOP senator, Richard Shelby, had admitted he didn't vote for Moore, saying "the Republican Party can do better" and revealing he had instead written in another candidate. Condoleezza Rice, a Birmingham native who served as secretary of state under President George W. Bush, cut a robocall in the race, not-so-subtly urging voters in her home state to "reject bigotry, sexism, and intolerance."
Jones is a former U.S. attorney who is best known for prosecuting KKK members decades later for the killing of four young African-American girls in a 1963 Birmingham church bombing. He hopes that background can help turn out African-American voters he needs to win. He has outspent Moore almost 10-1 and has had an active campaign schedule, while Moore has been largely absent from the campaign trail in the final stretch, and has an active field operation, while the GOP nominee's staff has been a skeleton crew.
Moore had remained defiant, using a very Trumpian strategy of running against the media and the D.C. establishment he says has conspired against him and are behind the allegations. And he won the GOP primary over appointed Sen. Luther Strange earlier this year, despite being heavily outspent by both Strange and a superPAC allied with McConnell.
But even before the accusations of sexual assault surfaced Moore was a controversial figure in Alabama politics who narrowly won election in the past and lost nominations for governor. He is a former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice who was twice removed from the bench, the first time for refusing to remove a statue of the Ten Commandments he'd had erected in the state judiciary building. Later, he was re-elected to the court, but then suspended after he directed state judges to ignore the U.S. Supreme Court's 2015 ruling that legalized same-sex marriage.
Moore's Christian nationalist positions are something that resonate with many of the state's white evangelical voters, and he hasn't backed off his controversial positions against same-sex marriage and transgender rights.