Democrat Doug Jones defeated Republican Roy Moore in Alabama’s Senate special election Tuesday, a victory that will truly upset President Donald Trump.
Alabama voters who gave him a 28 point lead over Hillary Clinton in November last year simply snubbed him in the crucial election, that may well be a gauge of how popular the less than one year-old President is in America.
With 95 percent of the votes counted, the Associated Press declared Jones the winner. He will be the first Democrat to represent deep-red Alabama in 20 years.
Jones, a former U.S. attorney who prosecuted Ku Klux Klan members for an infamous 1963 church bombing in Birmingham fills the seat left vacant by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. He is not up for re-election until 2020.
The upset is an embarrassment for President Donald Trump, who threw his full support behind Moore, even after multiple allegations emerged that he had pursued sexual relationships with teenagers as an adult. It’s also a shot in the arm for Democrats, who are hoping that anger at Trump and congressional Republicans will fuel a “wave” election in 2018, flipping the U.S. House of Representatives, and perhaps even the Senate, blue.
Moore, a former judge who was removed from office twice before running for the Senate, was hit by multiple allegations from women who said he sexually pursued them when he was in his 30s and they were teenagers. One woman said Moore touched her sexually when she was 14; another said he sexually assaulted her when she was just 16 years old and he was an assistant district attorney.
Moore vehemently denied the allegations, but several high-profile Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, said they believed the women, who made the accusations on the record. Trump, however, never abandoned Moore, even cutting a robocall for him in Alabama that called Jones a “puppet of Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer.” Trump won the state last year by 28 points, and his failure to push Moore over the finish line could spell trouble for the unpopular president’s political strategy going forward.
Moore’s troubled candidacy unexpectedly turned one of the most Republican states in the country into a battleground, with Moore leading his Democratic opponent by just 2 percentage points in an average of polls. In the end, Jones won, driven by high turnout in black communities and low turnout in whiter, rural parts of the state.
Jones’s victory also endangers Republicans’ tax reform legislation in Congress, which passed by a narrow majority in the Senate earlier this month.
Both the Senate and the House will have to pass another combined version of the tax bill to send it to the president’s desk.
With one fewer Republican in the chamber, McConnell can lose only one vote and still push through the bill, which has not attracted any Democratic support. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., has already voted against the legislation once, and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, has made several demands regarding health care that must be met before she’ll support it again. McConnell could rush the vote before Jones is seated in January, however, the AP reported.