Former U.S. Attorney Doug Jones handed Republican Roy Moore a stunning blow in Tuesday’s special Senate election for the seat formerly held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The results capped off an intense race defined in recent weeks by allegations of sexual misconduct against Moore from decades ago. Moore did not concede late Monday evening.
Unofficial results showed Jones with 49.7 percent of the vote to Moore’s 48.6 percent. Jones shored up his strongest support in Jefferson, Madison, and Mobile counties. He also won in Alabama’s Black Belt counties, where the state’s poorest, mostly African American residents live. Jones ran an active campaign, with canvassers going door to door daily, running phone banks, holding popular benefit concerts and courting the state’s black voters.
Republicans were deeply divided over their support of Moore. Christian evangelicals in white, rural areas made up Moore’s base. President Donald Trump in the days leading up to the election urged Alabama voters to support the twice-removed former Alabama Supreme Court Justice in Tuesday’s race, as did Steve Bannon, head of the far-right news site Breitbart. But Moore declared war on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell early on in his campaign, with calls to “drain the swamp” a common refrain.
Senior Republican Sen. Richard Shelby told reporters he could not vote for Moore, and instead voted for a write-in. Several women accused Moore of pursuing them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30’s. The encounters ranged from sexual assault to sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl.
Many Republican voters in the days leading up to the election had expressed their disappointment with Moore. Some vowed to sit out the election, while others would cast a write-in ballot. More than 22,000 voters wrote in a candidate Tuesday.
Jones spoke to an elated crowd of supporters from a hotel in Birmingham Tuesday night. “I have always believed that the people of Alabama had more in common than to divide us,” Jones said during his victory speech to an elated crowd. He promised to address health care, jobs, and the economy.
Jones said Alabama has taken the wrong path in the past. “Alabama has been at a crossroads … tonight, ladies and gentleman, you have taken the right road,” he said.
This is the first time Alabamians have elected a Democrat to the Senate in 25 years.