Former state Chief Justice Roy Moore won the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate in Alabama on Tuesday as voters brushed aside pleas from President Trump and millions in ads from establishment Republicans and chose a brash and controversial conservative.
Moore defeated Sen. Luther Strange, who had been appointed to the seat in April by GOP Gov. Robert J. Bentley to replace Jeff Sessions when he became attorney general. Moore held a double-digit lead throughout the night as votes were counted, and with about two-thirds of precincts reporting, led 56% to 43%.
At the time of Strange’s appointment, Bentley was under threat of impeachment because of a sex scandal, and he later resigned. Throughout the campaign, Strange, who was state attorney general before joining the Senate, had to fight off questions about the ethics of seeking a Senate nomination from a governor his staff was investigating.
But Strange also fought — and Moore appeared to profit from — voters’ anti-Washington sentiment. Not even Trump’s endorsement, and personal pitches including a rally in Huntsville on Friday, persuaded voters to pick the more reserved Strange over Moore, a perennial firebrand.
“Congratulations to Roy Moore on his Republican Primary win in Alabama. Luther Strange started way back & ran a good race. Roy, WIN in Nov!” Trump tweeted late Tuesday. He later corrected the month — the election is Dec. 12.
Trump had argued that Strange would have coasted to victory against Democrat Doug Jones in that vote, and that Moore’s nomination would make the seat competitive for Democrats. But voters went with Moore.
“People like Donald Trump, and people like Roy Moore, and they don’t feel they have to choose between the two,” said GOP pollster Brent Buchanan, whose Monday poll found Moore with a double-digit lead. “They are bold and brash, and people prefer that over polished politicians right now. And they know where those guys stand,” he said.
Moore showed his boldness in his election eve rally. To counter Strange’s claim that he was soft on the 2nd Amendment, Moore brandished a revolver onstage. On Tuesday, he cantered to the polls on his horse.
Moore has sought multiple offices during decades in Alabama politics, making him well-known among the state’s voters. He also has been a magnet for controversy: His record includes being stripped of his court seat twice — once for setting up a…