Jones wins Alabama Senate race, issues challenge to future colleagues
Democrat Doug Jones has won election to the U.S. Senate from Alabama, dealing a political blow to President Donald Trump.
Jones defeated Republican Roy Moore, a one-time GOP pariah who was embraced by the Republican Party and the president even after facing allegations of sexual impropriety.
An attorney and former prosecutor, Jones rallied voters on a message of moving past the Moore controversies. He was buoyed by an influx of national Democratic cash and endorsements.
According to the Washington Post, with 100 percent of the precincts reporting, Jones received 670,551 votes to 649,240 votes for Moore. Write-in votes totaled 22,777.
Jones’ victory is set to narrow the slim Republican majority over Democrats in the Senate to 51-49.
President Donald Trump posted a tweet offering his congratulations to Jones.
However, Moore’s campaign manager said the candidate is not yet conceding the U.S. Senate race.
Rich Hobson told a somber crowd at Moore’s election night gathering that: “Some people are calling it. We are not calling it.”
The Associated Press declared at 10:24 p.m. ET that Jones had won election to the U.S. Senate seat from Alabama.
Hobson says the margin is thin and there are still votes to be counted. He is asking Moore’s supporters to pray.
Jones, an attorney and former federal prosecutor, said he is “overwhelmed” by his upset win over Moore.
“At the end of the day, this entire race has been about dignity and respect,” Jones said.
“I have always believed that the people of Alabama have more in common than divides us,” Jones told supporters at his campaign victory rally. “We have shown the country the way that we can be.”
Jones said his campaign was about “finding common ground,” and is encouraging lawmakers in Washington to work together to fund the children’s health insurance program before he is seated.
Moore and Jones had been battling in a nationally-watched election to replace Republican Jeff Sessions, who held the Alabama U.S. Senate seat for two decades before President Trump appointed him to lead the Justice Department this year. Sessions’ appointment triggered a special election in the deeply conservative state.
At the center of the election was Moore, a fiery Christian conservative — “Judge Moore” to his supporters. The 70-year-old Republican was twice ousted as state Supreme Court chief justice after flouting federal law. This year he attempted a political resurrection against party officials horrified by accusations of sexual misconduct with teenage girls when he was in his 30s.
In Moore’s path stood Democrat Doug Jones, 63, a former U.S. attorney best known for prosecuting two Ku Klux Klansmen who killed four black girls in Birmingham’s infamous 1963 church bombing. He was aiming to become the first Democrat in a quarter century to win an Alabama Senate seat. Jones’ campaign came under fire last week for a flyer targeting black voters that some thought was racist.
In the September GOP primary, Moore bested Luther Strange, who had been appointed to fill Sessions’ Senate seat until the special election. Strange was backed by the GOP establishment, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Trump.
Trump endorsed Moore in early December, though other Republican leaders refused to back Moore after the sexual misconduct allegations against him. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” that he could not vote for Moore to join him in the chamber.
“We call it a tipping point,” Shelby said. “I think, so many accusations, so many cuts, so many drip, drip, drip —when it got to the 14-year-old’s story, that was enough for me. I said I can't vote for Roy Moore.”
Polling of the race was scant, and the polling data were scattershot: While one survey released Monday morning showed Moore with a 9-point lead, another poll released the same day gave Jones a 10-point advantage in the race, FiveThirtyEight reported.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.