After a Long Shot, Democrat Doug Jones Wins Alabama Senate Race
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Doug Jones, a Democratic former prosecutor who mounted a seemingly quixotic Senate campaign in the face of Republican dominance here, defeated his scandal-scarred opponent, Roy S. Moore, right after a brutal campaign marked by accusations of sexual abuse and child molestation against the Republican.
The upset delivered an unimagined victory for Democrats and shaved Republicans’ unstable Senate majority to a single seat.
Mr. Jones’s victory could have important consequences on the national level, snarling Republicans’ legislative agenda in Washington and opening, for the first time, a realistic but still hard path for Democrats to capture the Senate subsequent year. It amounted to a stinging snub of President Trump, who broke with considerably of his party and totally embraced Mr. Moore’s candidacy, looking for to rally support for him in the closing days of the campaign.
Amid thunderous applause from his supporters at a downtown hotel, Mr. Jones held up his victory as a message to Washington from voters fed up with political warfare. For once, he said, Alabama had declined to take “the wrong fork” at a political crossroads.
“We have shown the country the way that we can be unified,” Mr. Jones declared, draping his election in the language of reconciliation and consensus. “This entire race has been about dignity and respect. This campaign has been about the rule of law.”
Mr. Trump tweeted his congratulations to Mr. Jones “on a tough fought victory.”
“The men and women of Alabama are fantastic, and the Republicans will have an additional shot at this seat in a really short period of time,” he wrote. “It in no way ends!”
Propelled by a backlash against Mr. Moore, an intensely polarizing former judge who was accused of sexually assaulting young girls, Mr. Jones overcame the state’s daunting demographics and deep cultural conservatism. His campaign targeted African-American voters with a sprawling, muscular turnout operation, and appealed to educated white voters to turn their backs on the Republican Celebration.
Those pleas paid off on Tuesday, as precincts in Birmingham and its suburbs handed Mr. Jones overwhelming margins whilst he also won convincingly in Huntsville and other urban centers. The abandonment of Mr. Moore by affluent white voters, along with robust support from black voters, proved decisive, permitting Mr. Jones to transcend Alabama’s rigid racial polarization and assemble a winning coalition. And solidifying Mr. Jones’s victory were the Republican-leaning residents who chose to write in the name of a third candidate rather than back a single of the two main celebration nominees. A lot more than 20,000 voters here cast write-in ballots, which amounted to 1.7 % of the electorate – about the same as Mr. Jones’s all round margin.
To progressive voters, Mr. Jones’s victory was a lengthy-awaited rejection of the divisive brand of politics that Alabama has inevitably rewarded even as some of its Southern neighbors were turning to a lot more moderate leaders.
At a celebration for Mr. Jones, Sue Bell Cobb, a former chief judge of the Alabama Supreme Court, mentioned that he had overcome a culture of “toxic partisanship,” reaching out to Republicans and electrifying restive Democrats.
“Never has there been this level of civic engagement,” stated Ms. Cobb, who is organizing to run for governor subsequent year. “Never has it happened.”
She was drowned out by a raucous cry from her fellow Democrats and clasped her hands to her face as she saw on a massive projection screen that Mr. Jones had pulled ahead. Mayor Randall Woodfin of Birmingham, a newly inaugurated Democrat standing just feet away, beamed as returns from his city helped put Mr. Jones over the best.
“It feels great,” he said with undisguised elation. “It sends a message not just to America but to the world.”
The campaign, originally envisioned as a pro forma affair to fill the Senate seat left vacant by Jeff Sessions, now the lawyer general, developed in its final months into a referendum on Alabama’s identity, Mr. Trump’s political influence and the willingness of challenging-appropriate voters to tolerate a candidate accused of preying on teenage girls.
Mr. Jones, 63, best identified for prosecuting two Ku Klux Klansmen accountable for bombing Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963, offered himself chiefly as a figure of conciliation. He vowed to pursue conventional Democratic policy aims, in areas such as education and well being care, but also pledged to cross party lines in Washington and partner with Senator Richard C. Shelby, the lengthy-tenured Alabama Republican, to defend the state’s interests.
Mr. Moore did tiny in the general election to make himself much more acceptable to conventional Republicans. To the extent he delivered a campaign message, it was a rudimentary 1, showcasing his support for Mr. Trump and highlighting Mr. Jones’s celebration affiliation. But right after facing allegations in early November that he sexually abused a 14-year-old girl and pursued relationships with other teenagers, Mr. Moore became a scarce presence on the campaign trail.
On election night, as the benefits came in from Alabama’s cities and Mr. Moore’s lead evaporated, the mood at the candidate’s election evening celebration in Montgomery darkened. A saxophonist played a slow rendition of “Amazing Grace,” and the crowd quieted as the results from The New York Instances internet site posted on a projection screen turned toward Mr. Jones.
Taking the stage over an hour right after The Linked Press called the race, Mr. Moore refused to concede and instructed a subdued crowd to “wait on God and let this procedure play out.”
“Go residence and sleep on it,” he told supporters.
The election is a painful setback for Republicans in Washington, who have already struggled to enact policies of any scale and now face even tougher legislative math. Mr. Moore’s achievement in the Republican major here, and the subsequent common-election fiasco, may possibly deter mainstream Republicans from in search of workplace in 2018 and could prompt entrenched incumbents to think about retirement.
But there is also a measure of relief for some party leaders that Mr. Moore will not join the chamber, carrying with him a radioactive cloud of scandal. A number of Republicans, including Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, had indicated that Mr. Moore would face an ethics investigation if he had been elected, and possibly expulsion from the Senate.
Mr. Trump and Republican activists would most probably have opposed such a measure, setting up a potentially drastic, monthslong clash inside the Republican Celebration, now averted thanks to Mr. Jones.
Nevertheless, that relief comes at a steep value. Before the election in Alabama, Republicans were heavily favored to preserve manage of the Senate in 2018, when Democrats must defend 25 seats, like 10 in states that Mr. Trump carried in 2016. Just two or three Republican-held seats appear vulnerable, in Arizona, Nevada and Tennessee.
But following Mr. Jones is sworn in, Republicans will handle only 51 seats, making a plausible route for Democrats to take more than.
If the election burst into the national consciousness in early November, with the sex-abuse claims against Mr. Moore, it was an intensifying political migraine for Republican leaders months prior to then. Mr. Trump’s decision to pluck Mr. Sessions from the Senate in early 2017 touched off a grim comedy of errors for the party, involving two Alabama governors, a Senate appointment extensively observed as tainted by corruption, a rescheduled specific election and a botched attempt by national Republican donors to crush dissent in the Republican principal.
For all their efforts, party leaders have been rewarded with Mr. Moore, whom they grudgingly embraced in the early fall — just in time for a scandal of unmatched luridness to seem.
The Washington Post reported in early November that Mr. Moore, although a local prosecutor in his 30s, had produced sexual overtures to four teenage girls, 1 of whom was 14 at the time of their encounter. Other girls quickly stepped forward to say Mr. Moore had produced advances on them, also, 1 of whom accused him of committing sexual assault.
National Republican officials abandoned Mr. Moore’s campaign. However soon after it appeared that Mr. Moore remained viable, Mr. Trump offered a Thanksgiving week defense of the candidate and urged the folks of Alabama to oppose Mr. Jones.
Mr. Trump’s intervention helped stabilize Mr. Moore’s campaign. When the president made the case for the Republican’s candidacy at a Friday rally in the Gulf Coast town of Pensacola, Fla., just over the Alabama border, Mr. Jones’s campaign saw its internal polling advantage dissipate.
But the conclusion of the campaign was largely to Mr. Jones’s advantage.
Mr. Jones raised $ten.two million in just over a month and a half, and third-party groups augmented his candidacy, assisting him finance an extensive voter turnout effort following he had dominated the state’s airwaves for weeks.
He raced across Alabama with a handful of out-of-state surrogates and one particular neighborhood celebrity, the basketball star Charles Barkley, in the election’s last days, focusing his consideration on cities, college towns and heavily black communities.
Mr. Moore, as an alternative of facing inquiries about accusations of sexual abuse, largely vanished from the campaign in the last week. He returned to Alabama for a rally in the rural, southeast corner of the state on Monday with Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s former chief strategist.
But the most memorable comments from the event did not come from Mr. Moore. Rather, they emerged from Mr. Bannon, who mocked the MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, a University of Alabama graduate, for not attending a more prestigious school Mr. Moore’s wife, Kayla, who angrily denied charges the couple was anti-Semitic by noting “one of our attorneys is a Jew” and an Army buddy of the candidate, who recalled the two of them becoming uneasy walking into a Vietnam brothel to find “pretty girls” whom Mr. Moore discovered as well young.
Published at Wed, 13 Dec 2017 12:18:40 +0000