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Democrat Doug Jones wins Alabama U.S. Senate seat

Jones defeats Republican Roy Moore amid allegations of Moore’s sexual pursuit of teenage girls

♦By Rich Shumate,

BIRMINGHAM (CFP) — Democrat Doug Jones has defeated Republican Roy Moore to win a U.S. Senate contest in Alabama, snatching away a seat in one of the country’s most Republican states and handing a rebuke to President Donald Trump, who went all in for Moore.

U.S. Senator-elect Doug Jones

Jones, 63, a former federal prosecutor from Birmingham making his first bid for elective office, took 50 percent to 48 percent for Moore in the December 12 vote, with the remaining vote going to write-in candidates.

Despite the Yellowhammer State’s strongly conservative tilt, Moore could not survive allegations that he sexually pursued teenage girls decades ago when he was in his 30s, which became public a month before the special election to permanently fill the seat of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Moore’s defeat, in a state where a Democrat had not won a Senate race in 25 years, also leaves Senate Republicans with a razor-thin 51-49 majority and increases prospects for Democrats to win control of the chamber in 2018.

Speaking to jubilant supporters in Birmingham, Jones said, “I think that I have been waiting all my life, and now I just don’t know what the hell I’m going to say.”

“We have been at a crossroads in the past, and, unfortunately, we have usually taken the wrong fork. Tonight, you have taken the right road,” he said.

But Moore, addressing supporters in Montgomery, refused to concede defeat, saying that the closeness of the result might raise the possibility of a recount.

“It’s not over,” he said. “We also know God is in control.”

However, Moore’s most prominent supporter, Trump, offered congratulations to Jones on Twitter shortly after television networks called the race for Jones.

“Congratulations to Doug Jones on a hard fought victory,” Trump said. “The people of Alabama are great, and the Republicans will have another shot at this seat in a very short period of time.”

Jones will face voters again in 2020 after winning the race to fill the rest of the term Sessions won in 2014, which he gave up in February to join Trump’s Cabinet as attorney general.

Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore

In November, five women came forward to say that Moore, now 70, made advances toward them when he was in his 30s and they were teenagers. One of the women, Leigh Corfman, said Moore initiated sexual contact with her back in 1979, when she was just 14.

Suggestions of sexual impropriety posed a special problem for Moore because his legal and political careers have been built on unapologetic Christian conservatism, which is frequently on display in most of his speeches.

He was twice elected and twice removed as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court after defying federal court orders on displaying the Ten Commandments and issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples — stands that made him a controversial figure well before the allegations of sexual misbehavior surfaced.

Moore vehemently denied the allegations, but virtually all of the Senate GOP caucus called on him to exit the race, including Alabama’s other U.S. Senator, Republican Richard Shelby.

Trump initially kept some distance from Moore, sending out surrogates to say that if the charges were true, he should leave the race. However, Trump eventually endorsed Moore and made robocalls on his behalf, saying the seat was too important to hand over to a “liberal” like Jones.

Democrats, smelling blood after the allegations against Moore became public, began pouring resources into what had been considered a long-shot race. Toward the end of the campaign, Jones’s campaign was putting up seven TV commercials to every one from Moore.

The Senate seat opened in February after Sessions left to become U.S. attorney general. Former Governor Robert Bentley appointed Republican Luther Strange to  the seat, but he was unable to hold it in a September GOP primary where he lost to Moore.

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