External Affairs

In Blow to Trump, Democrat Doug Jones Wins Alabama Senate Race

Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore (L) is greeted by supporters as he arrives at his election night party in Montgomery, Alabama. December 12, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Carlo Allegri

Birmingham: Democrat Doug Jones won a bitter fight for a US Senate seat in deeply conservative Alabama on Tuesday, US media projected, dealing a political blow to President Donald Trump in a race marked by accusations of sexual misconduct against Republican candidate Roy Moore.

The stunning upset by Jones makes him the first Democrat elected to the US Senate from Alabama in 25 years and will trim the Republicans’ already narrow Senate majority to 51-49, endangering Trump‘s agenda and opening the door for Democrats to possibly retake the chamber in next year’s congressional elections.

The ugly campaign drew national attention and split the Republican Party over accusations from several women that Moore pursued them when they were teens and he was in his thirties.

Trump endorsed Moore even as other party leaders in Washington walked away from him, but Jones, 63, a former federal prosecutor, portrayed the campaign as a referendum on decency and promised the state’s voters he would not embarrass them in Washington.

Moore, 70, a Christian conservative who was removed from the Supreme Court of Alabama twice for ignoring federal law, denied the sexual allegations, saying he does not know any of the women who made them. Reuters has not independently verified the allegations.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell had called on Moore to drop out of the race, and other Senate leaders had suggested he should eventually be expelled from the Senate if elected.

Trump had recorded robocalls to voters and held a campaign rally across the border in Florida last week to boost electoral turnout for Moore.

“Roy Moore will always vote with us. VOTE ROY MOORE!” Trump said in a Twitter post in which he criticised Jones as a potential “puppet” of the democratic congressional leadership.

Network exit polls, however, showed Trump was not a factor in the decision for about half of Alabama voters. A further 29% said they voted to express support for Trump, and 20% said they voted to oppose him.

In Gadsden, Alabama, Louis Loveman, 73, a retired librarian and self-described lifelong Republican, said he voted for Jones. “It’s simple,” he said. “I don’t trust Roy Moore.”

“There are too many allegations floating out there for there not to be fire behind all that smoke. I never voted for a Democrat before, but I did today,” Loveman said.