In a stunning victory aided by scandal, Democrat Doug Jones won Alabama’s special US Senate election, beating history, an embattled Republican opponent and US President Donald Trump, who urgently endorsed Republican Roy Moore, despite a litany of sexual misconduct allegations.
It was the first Democratic Senate victory in a quarter-century in Alabama, one of the reddest of red states, and proved anew that party loyalty is anything but certain in the age of Trump.
Tuesday’s loss was a major embarrassment for the president and a fresh wound for the nation’s already divided Republican Party.
“We have shown not just around the state of Alabama, but we have shown the country the way that we can be unified,” Jones said as supporters in a Birmingham ballroom cheered, danced and cried tears of joy.
Still in shock, Jones struggled for words: “I think that I have been waiting all my life and now I just don’t know what the hell to say.”
Meanwhile, Moore refused to concede and raised the possibility of a recount during a brief appearance at a somber campaign party in Montgomery.
“It’s not over,” Moore said. “We know that God is still in control.”
From the White House, Trump tweeted his congratulations to Jones “on a hard-fought victory,” but added that “the Republicans will have another shot at this seat in a very short period of time. It never ends!”
Jones takes over the seat previously held by US Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The term expires in January 2021.
The victory by Jones, a former US attorney best known for prosecuting two Ku Klux Klansmen responsible for Birmingham’s infamous 1963 church bombing, narrows the Republican advantage in the Senate to 51-49.
That imperils already-uncertain Republican tax, budget and health proposals, and injects tremendous energy into the Democratic Party’s early push to reclaim majorities in the House of Representatives and the Senate next year.
Still, many Washington Republicans viewed the defeat of Moore as perhaps the best outcome for the party nationally, despite the short-term sting.
Moore’s positions have alienated women, racial minorities, gays and Muslims, in addition to the multiple allegations that he was guilty of sexual misconduct with teens, one only 14, when he was in his 30s.
Had Moore won, the Republicans would have been saddled with a colleague accused of sordid conduct as Republicans nationwide struggle with Trump’s historically low popularity.
Senate leaders had promised that Moore would have faced an immediate ethics investigation.
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