The results are in: Democrat Doug Jones has defeated Republican Roy Moore in the race for the Alabama Senate seat. An incredibly close win, Jones won the seat with 49.6% of the votes, according to the New York Times. This special election began when President Donald Trump chose Alabama state senator Jeff Sessions for Attorney General. The race was surrounded by controversy that showed a major shift in the traditionally conservative state.
Moore, a Vietnam veteran, circulated throughout the Alabama court system as a federal judge. Elected in 2001 as the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, he was removed for inappropriate religious advocacy in 2003 and re-elected in 2016. He resigned from this position to run for the 2017 Senate election. His opponent, Jones, served as the United States Attorney for the Northern Alabama District. Jones’s most well-known case is his prosecution of Ku Klux Klan members for the murder of four young African American girls in the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing of 1963.
Going into the race, Jones sought to win more urban counties, including cities such as Birmingham and larger populations of black communities. Moore looked for more support in rural counties and the northern section of the state.
While Moore was favored to win the election, sexual assault claims disrupted his campaign as it neared election day. In Nov. 2017, three women came forward and accused Moore of sexual assault, two of whom claimed the assault
occurred when they were teenagers and Moore was in his 30s. Several other women, between the ages of 16 and 22, accused Moore of pursuing inappropriate and unwarranted relationships. Moore denied all allegations against him, as he claimed on Nov. 27 and 29, “I did not know these women,” and “did not date any of these women and have not engaged in any sexual misconduct with anyone.”
When these allegations were presented to the public, it was too late for Moore’s name to be called off the ballot, however, the Republican Party did take a stand. Members of the GOP called for Moore to abandon his campaign, including 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Senator John McCain, and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. More Republican leaders pulled out of their endorsement of Moore as well. However, President Trump stuck by his endorsement of Moore and was incredibly vocal against the potential detriment Jones would have in the Senate. In a recent Twitter message, the president stated, “The people of Alabama will do the right thing. Doug Jones is Pro-Abortion, weak on Crime, Military and Illegal Immigration, Bad for Gun Owners and Veterans and against the WALL. Jones is a Pelosi/Schumer Puppet. Roy Moore will always vote with us. VOTE ROY MOORE!” Trump’s controversial endorsement of Moore presented itself to a state whose presidential approval rating is currently at 48%.
While an apparent split in congressional and executive support divided the GOP, Moore continued the race with individual and private funding to continue his campaign. Moore did still garner almost half of the votes, as the state was divided between believing the accusations against Moore. According to ABC News, “Fifty-one percent of voters said the allegations against Moore were definitely or probably true, while somewhat fewer, 44 percent, saw them as definitely or probably false.” The polls do show that Moore took a large hit with female voters, as Jones was up 17 points against Moore among women.
For now, this is the first time since 1997 that Alabama has a Democrat holding one of the Senate seats. The increasing political and public response to sexual assault allegation continue to rise, and this close election demonstrates the impact these allegations hold.