Strange, Moore heading to runoff in GOP U.S. Senate race in Alabama

Strange, Moore heading to runoff in GOP U.S. Senate race in Alabama

August 15th, 2017 by Associated Press in Breaking News

Former Alabama Chief Justice and U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore smiles after he votes at the Gallant Volunteer Fire Department, Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, in Gallant, Ala. Alabama's Republicans and Democrats were casting ballots Tuesday to select party nominees in the closely watched race for the Senate seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The GOP race is testing the reach of both Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

UPDATE: MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who was twice removed from his judicial duties, forced a primary runoff Tuesday against Trump-backed incumbent Sen. Luther Strange in a race likely to be closely watched for clues about Republicans' prospects in 2018 midterm elections.

Despite being buoyed by millions of dollars in advertising by a super political action committee tied to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Strange was unable to defeat the firebrand jurist who took losing stands for the public display of the Ten Commandments and against gay marriage.

Moore told cheering supporters that they had sent a great message to Washington, D.C., in a race where Moore presented himself as the better carrier of Trump's outsider appeal.

"This is a great victory. The attempt by the silk stocking Washington elitists to control the vote of the people of Alabama has failed," Moore said at his victory party in downtown Montgomery, with a copy of the Ten Commandments among the decorations.

Senator Luther Strange talks with media after voting with his wife, Melissa, Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, in Homewood, Ala. Alabama voters are casting ballots Tuesday to select party nominees in the closely watched Senate race for the seat that belonged to Attorney General Jeff Sessions. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Senator Luther Strange talks with media after voting...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

Strange's struggles have already raised concerns among sitting GOP members of Congress, even if he ultimately survives.

"There are a probably a number of incumbents on both sides of the aisle who should take notice of another demonstration that voters still want change," said Greg Strimple, a Republican pollster for a political action committee aligned with House Speaker Paul Ryan.

"The takeaway is that Washington is very unpopular," Strimple said, and that overrides even President Donald Trump's endorsement, because he cannot simply "transfer his brand" to candidates, like the lobbyist-turned-politician Strange, who fail to establish their own outsider credentials.

Trump's approval rating has hit a new low of 34 percent, according to Gallup, but strong currents of support still flow through the Republican electorate in Alabama, where the GOP candidates went all-out to attract Trump voters and throw shade on the Washington, D.C. "swamp."

Strange had emphasized his Trump endorsement — delivered first via Twitter and then in recorded phone calls to voters — in the closing days of the race but had acknowledged all along that a runoff was likely because of the crowded GOP field in a low-turnout special election.

"He knows that I'm the person in the race who is going to help him make this country great again," Strange said of Trump's support. "It all boils down to who's best suited to stand with the people of this country — with our president — to make America great again," Strange said.

The senator, a former college basketball player sometimes called "Big Luther" because of his 6-foot-9 frame, said he liked his chances in a "one-on-one" matchup with Moore. The two will meet in a Sept. 26 runoff. The winner will face Democratic nominee Doug Jones in a December election.

FILE - In this March 22, 2017, file photo, Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala. is interviewed on Capitol Hill in Washington. In the Alabama race for Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ former Senate seat, the Republican slugfest primary is about love of all things Trump, with contenders openly wooing Trump voters, and hatred of the so-called swamp of Washington D.C. Sen. Luther Strange, who was appointed to the position in February, is trying to fight off a field of firebrand challengers, including Brooks and former chief justice Roy Moore in the GOP primary. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

FILE - In this March 22, 2017, file...

Photo by J. Scott Applewhite

Moore harnessed his strong support among evangelical voters to lead the first round of primary voting despite a shoestring budget. His critics have sometimes derided him as the "Ayatollah of Alabama," accusing him of intertwining his personal religious beliefs and judicial responsibilities.

Alabama's judicial discipline panel removed Moore as chief justice in 2003 for disobeying a federal judge's order to remove a boulder-sized Ten Commandments monument from the state courthouse. He was permanently suspended last year after telling probate judges they remained under a state court order to deny marriage licenses to gay

Throughout the race, Moore wore his ousters from the bench as something of a badge of honor, telling Republican voters in the blood-red state that they are akin to battle scars for standing up for what he believes.

In the rural community of Gallant in northeast Alabama, Jimmy Wright, 41, showed up early Tuesday to vote for Moore.

Aside from being a neighbor, Wright said, he likes the way the ousted judge conducted his campaign.

"He's the only one who hasn't been talking crap about the others," Wright said. Trump's support for Strange didn't matter to him, he said.

In Montgomery, retired teacher Tommy Goggans said he turned out specifically "to keep Roy Moore from getting it." Why? "He's been kicked out of everything he's done."

Strange was Alabama's attorney general before he was appointed to the Senate in February by Gov. Robert Bentley, who soon resigned in scandal. Strange said he did Bentley no favors, but his challengers questioned the ethics of seeking the appointment while investigating the governor.

On the Democratic side, a former U.S. attorney under the Clinton administration, Jones was backed by former Vice President Joe Biden and some other national party figures. He is perhaps best known for leading the prosecution of two Klansmen for the 1963 bombing of a Birmingham church that killed four little girls.

Although Alabama has not been represented by a Democrat in the U.S. Senate in 20 years, Jones has said Democrats must not concede the seat without a fight. He says Democrats can win if they can turn the conversation to "kitchen table issues" such as wages, health care and jobs.

"I think there are enough people in the state who are yearning for new leadership and a change," Jones said.

Related Article

Doug Jones wins Democratic Senate primary in Alabama

Read more

___

ORIGINAL STORY: MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama Sen. Luther Strange is looking to support from President Donald Trump to help carry him to victory — or at least a runoff — in Alabama's Republican Senate primary Tuesday, as his tries to fight back a slate of firebrand challengers, including former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore.

Despite the endorsement from Trump and heavy investment by a super political action committee tied to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Strange has been forced into what is expected to be a tight race for the U.S. Senate seat previously held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Strange's challengers include Moore, who was twice removed from his duties as chief justice for his stances supporting the public display of the Ten Commandments and against gay marriage, and U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus who is backed by tea party voters in the state.

"The final pitch is: Listen to President Trump. The key is someone who will support him in Washington. He's endorsed me," Strange said as he encouraged Alabamians to get out and vote.

Moore expressed optimism Tuesday after a horseback ride to his polling place, an election day tradition of his.

"We look forward to registering our vote to make this country great again, to make it good again. And we're looking forward to voting and hope we have a good turnout today, because I know there's a lot of motivation out there to change Washington," Moore said.

Trump's approval rating has hit a new low of 34 percent, according to Gallup, but strong currents of support still flow through the Republican electorate in Alabama, where the GOP candidates went all-out to attract Trump voters and throw shade on the Washington, D.C. "swamp."

Trump recorded a Monday night robocall urging voters to choose Strange. Strange's campaign quickly pushed the message out in robocalls to try to get voters to the polls in the late summer special election. Low turnout has been projected, and that could favor candidates like Moore, who has a heavy following among the state's evangelical voters but has alienated others with his hardline religious right stances.

Strange said he believes the "momentum is on our side with the President's tweet and robocalls," but said the race is likely to end in a runoff because of the crowded field.

Voting was steady at St. James Methodist Church on the outskirts of Montgomery, where retired teacher Tommy Goggans said he turned out specifically "to keep Roy Moore from getting it." Why? "He's been kicked out of everything he's done."

The Democratic side is also crowded but has escaped most of the drama of the bitter GOP race. Doug Jones, a former U.S. attorney under the Clinton administration, is perhaps the best-known Democrat and is backed by former Vice President Joe Biden and some other national party figures.

In the rural community of Gallant in northeast Alabama, Jimmy Wright, 41, showed up early Tuesday to vote for Moore.

Aside from being a neighbor, Wright said, he likes the way the ousted judge conducted his campaign.

"He's the only one who hasn't been talking crap about the others," Wright said. Trump's support for Strange didn't matter to him, he said.

Brooks has hammered at Strange's support from McConnell, asking voters to send a message that "our Alabama Senate seat cannot be bought by special interests in Washington D.C."

"Alabama has a chance to send a message, a huge message — not only to Washington D.C. — but the United States of America. We can send a message that we are tired of this do-nothing Senate," Brooks said.

Strange was Alabama's attorney general before he was appointed to the Senate in February by Gov. Robert Bentley, who soon resigned in scandal. Strange said he did Bentley no favors, but his challengers questioned the ethics of seeking the appointment while investigating the governor.

The crowded GOP field increases the odds none will get a majority Tuesday, putting the top two finishers in a September runoff. Other Republicans on the ballot include Sen. Trip Pittman and Christian Coalition leader Randy Brinson.

The Democratic side also includes environmental advocate Michael Hansen, who has urged Democrats to fully embrace progressive positions, and Robert Kennedy, Jr., a Navy veteran, unrelated to the famed Massachusetts political dynasty, who calls for building bridges with Republicans and independents.

Although Alabama has not elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate in more than 20 years, some Democrats hope the special general election in December — particularly if Republicans end up with a polarizing nominee — could give them a chance.


Stay with the Times Free Press as more information becomes available.


Loading...