In a political blow to US President Donald Trump, 63-year-old Democrat Doug Jones became the first Alabama Democrat elected to the US Senate in 25 years. He defeated former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice Republican Roy Moore, 70, who was endorsed by Trump despite facing sexual misconduct allegations towards teenagers. In essence, Democrat Jones’ victory will narrow down the small Republican majority over Democrats in the Senate to 51-49. No Democrat has won an Alabama Senate seat since 1992.
Before the polls commenced, Jones had said decency must prevail. He had urged Alabama voters to see the race as a crossroads with an opportunity to avoid repeating past mistakes that harm the state’s image.
Doug Jones’ victory will give ammunition to Democrats to build on anti-Trump sentiment
Jones’ victory in the deeply conservative southern state and a Republican stronghold will give a boost to the Democratic Party as it looks to build on anti-Trump sentiment to mount a challenge next year to Republican control of Congress. With Trump’s approval ratings already at historically low levels, the Democrat victory means trouble for Trump’s political base even as it makes it harder for the President to advance his policy agenda. Had Moore won, it would have strengthened Trump’s grip on the Republican Party, even as other Republican leaders have refused to back Moore given the allegations. Democrats had already indicated that the party would have launched an attack on the Republicans and painted them as insensitive to women’s concerns had Moore won the seat.
Poll victory is significant at a time when nation is speaking out against misconduct by powerful men
The poll outcome is significant because President Donald Trump had openly supported fellow Republican Roy Moore despite allegations against him of sexual misconduct toward teenagers. The Alabam Senate race also assumes outsized importance at a time when the nation is speaking out against long-suppressed misconduct by powerful men.
By supporting Moore despite allegations, President Trump and the Republican National Committee have singularly maintained that the seat, which is a Republican stronghold, is of prime importance. This victory now gives momentum to the Democrats heading into the 2018 midterm elections.
Multiple women have accused Republican Moore of pursuing them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s. This includes a woman who said he tried to initiate sexual contact with her when she was 14. However, Moore has denied any misconduct.
Republicans were divided over whether to support or shun Moore
The Republican Party has been divided over whether to support Moore in order to protect their Senate majority or castigate him due to sexual misconduct allegations. It’s interesting to note that numerous prominent Republican senators have distanced themselves from Moore. At the same time, a political group that works to elect Republicans to the chamber has stayed out of the race. Senior US senator from Alabama Richard Shelby told Reuters that he did not vote for Moore. In the meantime, Republican former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, an African-American who grew up in Alabama, termed the special election “one of the most significant in Alabama’s history” without naming Moore.
Menwhile, in a statement to The Associated Press, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said: “The people of Alabama sent a loud and clear message to Donald Trump and the Republican Party: You can’t call yourself the party of family values as long as you’re willing to accept vile men like Roy Moore as members.”