Republican candidate Roy Moore on Wednesday suffered a stinging defeat as he lost the Alabama Senate election to Democrat candidate Doug Jones. With 99 per cent of the votes counted, Jones had a 1.5 percentage-point lead over Moore in the elections which were necessitated after the Senate seat was vacated by US President Donald Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions. The race was particularly significant since the Republicans had a narrow majority of 52-48 in the Senate– which will get trimmed further after Jones’ unpredictable win. Since the seat is traditionally a bastion of the reds, no Democrat has won the Alabama seat since 1992.
So who is Roy Moore?
70-year-old Roy Moore splintered the Republican party when allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced against him in a story published by The Washington Post. Moore had been accused by several women of pursuing them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s. This included one woman who said the Christian conservative leader tried to initiate sexual contact with her when she was 14.
The damage to Moore’s campaign was aggravated by the timing of the allegations as a no-tolerance policy towards sexual harassment has been on the rise post the Harvey Weinstein scandal.
“It’s just been hard, a hard campaign,” Moore said while denying any misconduct. Many Republican leaders had also distanced themselves from the campaign owing to the sexual misconduct allegations, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Steve Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist and executive at the right-wing Breitbart News site, slammed those who chose not to publicly support Moore’s candidature. “There’s a special place in hell for Republicans who should know better,” Bannon said at a rally.
President Trump, however, did not hesitate from endorsing Moore despite the allegations against him.
“Democrats refusal to give even one vote for massive Tax Cuts is why we need Republican Roy Moore to win in Alabama. We need his vote on stopping crime, illegal immigration, Border Wall, Military, Pro Life, V.A., Judges 2nd Amendment and more. No to Jones, a Pelosi/Schumer Puppet!” Trump had tweeted in the run-up to the elections.
Moore, who has also served as the former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, was removed twice from the post for violating judicial ethics. He also spent two decades advocating conservative Christian positions. “I want to make America great again with President Trump,” Moore said on the eve of elections. “I want America great, but I want America good, and she can’t be good until we go back to God.”
Lillian Woolf, 18, a University of Alabama freshman, told The Associated Press she was disgusted that some people would vote for Moore despite the allegations by multiple women. “It creeps me out,” she said. “It shocks me just how much people are willing to ignore a person’s past just because of their political stance.”