Senator-elect Doug Jones (D-AL) speaks during a rally, Dec. 13, in Birmingham, Alabama. Jones stated that President Donald Trump called him, Dec. 13, to congratulate him on his victory. (Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)
Doug Jones scripted history to become the first Democrat in 25 years to win a Senate seat from Alabama, Dec. 13, defeating President Donald Trump-backed Republican candidate Roy Moore, whose campaign was marred by allegations that he had sexually abused teenagers, writes Lalit K. Jha.
Moore’s defeat marks a major political blow to Trump, who endorsed the Alabama Republican and held a rally on his behalf. Although most national Republicans distanced themselves from Moore following the allegations against him, Trump reaffirmed his support to the firebrand conservative through tweets and public statements.
With all counties reporting, the Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill reported Jones with 49.92% of the vote, and Moore with 48.38% of the vote.
“Thank You Alabama!” Jones, 63, tweeted.
But Moore has so far refused to concede.
“When the vote is this close … it’s not over,” the 70- year-old told supporters after Jones declared victory in a special election.
The margin of victory is well above the half a percentage point which would have triggered a recount.
This is for the first time in a quarter century that a Democrat has won a Senate seat in the Republican stronghold of Alabama.
The unexpected victory of Jones also narrowed the Republican majority in the 100-member Senate to 51-49. The result could also become a factor in upcoming legislative battles, as Republicans will have one less vote in the narrowly divided Senate in 2018, media reports said.
During the brutal campaign, Moore faced allegations that he had molested or pursued relationships with teenage girls in the 1970s when he was in his 30s and an assistant district attorney.
Trump congratulated Jones for his “hard fought” victory.
“Congratulations to Doug Jones on a hard-fought victory,” Trump tweeted.
“The write-in votes played a very big factor, but a win is a win,” Trump said in his first reaction.
“The people of Alabama are great, and the Republicans will have another shot at this seat in a very short period of time. It never ends!” tweeted the President.
The Washington Post noted that Moore’s defeat showcased voter backlash to sexual misconduct allegations and the limits of President Trump’s political influence.
Jones’s victory in a part of the Deep South that has not elected a Democratic senator since 1992 was a dramatic repudiation of his opponent, Moore, a former state judge twice removed from office, the paper said.
“Democrats pull off an upset in Alabama,” The New York Times said as it declared victory for Jones. It described the victory of Jones as a rare Democratic victory in a staunchly Republican state.
“The race captivated the nation, not only for its debates over party loyalty and morality, but also for its also immense implications for both parties and the Trump presidency,” the paper said.
The stunning win by Jones in one of the nation’s most conservative states raised questions not just about Trump’s political acumen but also over whether his remarkable run, in which he crushed convention and defied political gravity, is beginning, finally, to run out of steam, CNN commented.
With this victory, Jones, a former U.S. attorney, has become the first Democrat elected to the Senate from Alabama since 1992.
“Doug Jones will be an outstanding Senator who will represent Alabama well. He was a great candidate and will be an even better Senator,” Senate Minority Leader Senator Chuck Schumer said.
Indian American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal said Jones’ win was a massive victory for the country.
“In a sharp rebuke of Donald Trump, Steve Bannon and their anti-American, hate-filled agenda, voters in Alabama blocked a paedophile bigot from serving in the U.S. Senate.
Tonight s victory is a testament to the power of organizing and mobilizing,” Jayapal said.
Allegations of sexual misconduct against Moore drew national attention to the special election. The claims against Moore came amid a wave of allegations of sexual misconduct against several prominent men in the world of politics, entertainment and media.