Doug Jones Defeats Roy Moore in Alabama Senate Race in Stunning Upset


Doug Jones (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
December 12, 2017

Democrat Doug Jones defeated Republican Roy Moore in Tuesday's special election in Alabama, a stunning upset making him the first Democrat to win a U.S. Senate seat there since 1992.

The Associated Press called the race at 10:23 p.m. ET. Jones ran up the tally in urban counties to overcome Moore's advantage in Alabama's more rural areas to pull of the shocking victory.

"I am truly overwhelmed," Jones said to jubilant supporters at his victory rally in Birmingham.

Jones said the people of Alabama had "spoken" with the result, calling the race about "dignity and respect."

Jones' win is all the more unlikely in the aftermath of the 2016 election result, when President Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in Alabama by nearly 28 points. His win also narrows the GOP majority to just 51 seats, damaging Republican hopes to hold onto the chamber in the 2018 election.

Jones touted his career as a U.S. attorney in his rise to the Democratic nomination over six primary election opponents. He prosecuted two former Ku Klux Klan members, Thomas Edwin Blanton Jr. and Bobby Frank Cherry, for the bombing of the historically black 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963.

Jones' conventionally Democratic positions, such as being pro-choice, put him at odds with a majority of the Alabama electorate, 62.1 percent of which voted for Trump over Clinton last year. But Jones’ campaign received an unexpected boost when sexual misconduct allegations against his opponent surfaced in November, upending Moore’s lead in the polls and breathing life into Jones’ campaign.

One woman accused Moore of inappropriate sexual touching when she was 14 years old and he was 32, and reports continued to come out about Moore making advances on teenage girls while he was an attorney in his thirties. Moore denied the accusations, but they dogged his campaign, reducing his Republican support even though Trump gave him a full-throated endorsement last week.

Before running for the U.S. Senate, Moore's legal career brought him to become Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. He was removed from that office in 2003 after defying a court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state Supreme Court, but he successfully ran for the office again in 2012.

However, his refusal to comply with legalized same-sex marriage led to him being suspended in 2016, and he later resigned and declared he would run for the Senate seat which he lost Tuesday night.

Moore also drew attention for past inflammatory comments, such as saying in 2005 that homosexual conduct should be illegal, promoting the "birther" conspiracy theory about Barack Obama, and claiming some U.S. counties were under "Sharia law."

Jones' win is a blow to former White House strategist Steve Bannon in particular, who backed Moore over incumbent Sen. Luther Strange (R., Ala.) in the GOP primary. The last Democrat to win a Senate seat in Alabama isn't even a Democrat anymore: current Sen. Richard Shelby (R., Ala.) in 1992, who notably said Sunday he could not vote for Moore.

Strange had been appointed to fill the seat vacated by Jeff Sessions, who resigned when he was confirmed as Attorney General.