In the weeks leading up to the Alabama Republican primary runoff for U.S. Senate, the polls were too close to call. But, Tuesday night was a different story.
Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore overwhelmingly defeated appointed Sen. Luther Strange, who had been backed heavily by President Donald Trump and the allies of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Moore ultimately took the state by 9 percent, defeating Strange 54.6 percent to 45.4.
The former chief justice to the Alabama Supreme Court, who is widely known for his refusal to remove a Ten Commandments display and for taking a stand against gay marriage, carried DeKalb County on Tuesday night in the Alabama Republican primary runoff, as well.
Moore took all but two of the 52 precincts reporting in Tuesday night’s U.S. Senate Special Election runoff. Moore garnered 58.8 percent of the vote while Strange got 41.2 percent.
There were 6,617 votes cast in Tuesday’s election, which was actually 394 more than the Aug. 15 primary.
The increase in turnout could likely be attributed to Trump, who had tweeted continuous support for Strange throughout the election and last week took a trip to Huntsville to campaign for “Big Luther.”
On Wednesday, Trump again took to Twitter, this time to congratulate Moore saying he, “Spoke to Roy Moore of Alabama last night [Tuesday]. Sounds like a really great guy who ran a fantastic race.” Tweets in support of Strange appeared to have been deleted on Tuesday night.
Moore, in his victory speech, returned to themes of God and government, saying that he had “never prayed to win this campaign” but only that’s “God’s will be done.”
“We have to return the knowledge of God and the Constitution of the United States to the United States Congress,” Moore told a cheering crowd in his victory party in Montgomery.
Moore predicted the race could be a bellwether for the 2018 midterms, saying the victory tells the establishment in “Washington, D.C., that their wall has been cracked and will now fall.”
The race has pitted Trump against his former strategist Steve Bannon who had argued Moore was a better fit for the “populist” movement. Introducing Moore, Bannon told a frenzied crowd that the victory was a repudiation of the “fat cats” of Washington who pumped millions into the Alabama race to boost Strange.
Bannon declared Moore’s win a victory for Trump, despite the president’s support for Strange. Moore said he supports the president and his agenda.
The Senate Leadership Fund, a group with ties to McConnell, had spent an estimated $9 million trying to secure the nomination for Strange.
SLF President and CEO Steven Law said Tuesday that Moore won the nomination “fair and square” and the group will now back him.
Law says Moore “has our support, as it is vital that we keep this seat in Republican hands.”
In a statement, McConnell congratulated Moore and said Senate Republicans are committed to keeping the seat in GOP hands.
Even though Alabama has not sent a Democrat to the U.S. Senate in two decades, Democrats are hopeful they have an opening in the December election against Moore.
Jones is a former U.S. attorney best known for prosecuting the Klansmen who killed four girls in a 1963 church bombing.
He said Tuesday that he wanted to focus the race on the “kitchen table issues” that matter to all Alabamians, “health care, education for our kids, jobs and a living wage.”
On the ballot for the Democrats on Aug. 15, Doug Jones took 61 percent of the vote en route to a Democratic nomination.
Fifty-two of the 53 precincts have been tallied in DeKalb County, with provisional ballots to follow next Tuesday at the DeKalb County Courthouse.
Moore will face Democratic nominee Jones on Dec. 12 in the race to fill the seat formerly held by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.