Republican Roy Moore by a large margin secured the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate in Tuesday’s Alabama runoff race, defeating Sen. Luther Strange despite President Trump’s vociferous backing.
Moore secured 54.6 percent of the vote while Strange won 45.4 percent.
Moore’s win comes after fierce opposition from many within his party, including Trump, who endorsed Strange in August. In the days leading up to the runoff, Trump and Vice President Mike Pence traveled to Alabama to campaign on Strange’s behalf. Strange was appointed in February by then-Governor Robert Bentley (R) to fill Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ seat in the Senate.
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Strange had the financial backing of several key allies. The Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC linked to Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), had paid for attacks ads against Moore, according to analysis from the Center for Responsive Politics. The National Rifle Association, which supported Strange, spent more than $1 million on the race, the center reported.
Moore has been endorsed by anti-choice extremist the Rev. Matt Trewhella, who once signed a pledge suggesting that killing an abortion provider was “justifiable.” The candidate featured the endorsement on his website. He also has the backing of Steve Bannon, head of white nationalist site Breitbart.com.
Some Republicans seem to fear that Moore’s inflammatory rhetoric could spell trouble for the party as it heads into the 2018 midterm elections. GOP strategist Karl Rove told the New York Times, “Roy Moore would be the Todd Akin of 2017 and 2018 for every Republican on the ballot,” referring to the 2012 Missouri Senate candidate’s notorious false suggestion that abortion wasn’t necessary because in “cases of legitimate rape,” the “female body has a way of shutting [pregnancy] down.”
“Republicans will be asked, ‘Do you agree homosexuality should be punished by death, do you believe 9/11 was a result of God’s anger,’” Rove said. “He’ll say outrageous things, the media will play it up, and every Republican will be asked, ‘Do you agree with that?’”
Moore suggested during a February speech at Open Door Baptist Church that the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks may have been part of the “consequences” the United States faced for supposedly turning away from god. He later added, according to CNN, that god was upset because “we legitimize sodomy” and “legitimize abortion.”
He has appeared on a radio show hosted by a preacher who claimed homosexuality should be punishable by death. Moore has argued that being gay is an “inherent evil against which children must be protected” and was suspended from the Alabama Supreme Court for refusing to comply with federal marriage equality law.
Moore will face Democrat Doug Jones, a former U.S. attorney, in the December 12 election. Jones in a statement criticized the state’s Republican primary for having “little discussion” of the “issues that matter to the people of Alabama – health care, jobs, and the economy,” and noted that his campaign has “been building momentum for weeks” as they prepare to face off against the Republican nominee for Senate.