Conservative candidate crushes Trump-backed
rival for Alabama's Republican Senate nomination

By Bryan Logan | Business Insider | September 26, 2017

Roy Moore. AP Photo/Brynn Anderson
Roy Moore. AP Photo/Brynn Anderson

The former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore on Tuesday captured the state's Republican nomination for US Senate, according to multiple media projections.

Here are the latest results from the Alabama Senate primary runoff between Moore and his opponent, Sen. Luther Strange, from Decision Desk HQ:

Alabama US Senate Runoff

Strange and Moore were fighting for the Republican nomination for the Senate seat once occupied by Jeff Sessions, who became US attorney general earlier this year.

The race culminated Tuesday in a battle of diverging ideals within the GOP, with Strange having received vocal support from President Donald Trump and establishment Republicans like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Strange's campaign pulled in $11 million from donors 300% more than his opponent.

Trump congratulated Moore in a tweet, encouraging him to "win in November." Alabama's general election, in which Moore will face his Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, takes place December 12. Trump deleted the incorrect tweet and sent another urging Moore to win in December.

"I very much look forward to working with the President to win in December," Moore tweeted Tuesday night.

Moore with supporters after he spoke at a rally Monday in Fairhope, Alabama. AP Photo/Brynn Anderson
Moore with supporters after he spoke at a rally Monday in Fairhope, Alabama. AP Photo/Brynn Anderson

Moore earned support of some conservatives who backed Trump in the 2016 election, including Sarah Palin and former Republican Sen. Jim DeMint. Trump's housing secretary, Ben Carson, came out in support of Moore last week. The populist agitator who previously served as White House chief strategist, Steve Bannon and Breitbart News, the right-wing website Bannon runs also backed Moore.

Moore was leading Strange almost immediately after polls closed in Alabama on Tuesday night, prompting Trump to worry whether he had backed the wrong candidate, according to sources cited by Politico.

Strange's loss to Moore on Tuesday night was seen as an especially tough blow for McConnell and establishment Republicans who earlier in the day canceled a vote on their latest healthcare effort.

Moore's unexpected rise follows a history of run-ins with ethics watchdogs in his state. He was twice removed from office in nearly 15 years once for his refusal to remove a Ten Commandments monument he installed in the rotunda at the state Supreme Court in 2003, and again in 2016 after he issued an order barring probate judges from issuing same-sex-marriage licenses.

Sen. Luther Strange. Marvin Gentry/Reuters
Sen. Luther Strange. Marvin Gentry/Reuters

Strange served as Alabama's attorney general from 2011 to 2017. He was touted as "a conservative voice ... much like his predecessor" when Gov. Robert Bentley appointed him to Sessions' seat in February.

On Monday evening, Vice President Mike Pence spoke with several hundred Strange supporters at airplane hangar in Birmingham, praising Strange's record of helping the Trump administration.

"Luther Strange is a real conservative. He's a leader and a real friend to President Trump. I got to tell you, Big Luther has been making a big difference in Washington," Pence said before exiting the stage to the tune of "Sweet Home Alabama."

In his concession speech, Strange said he did not blame Trump for his defeat. "The president took a chance. He didn't have to come down. I'm sure he'll be criticized for coming to campaign with me," Strange said, according to AL.com.

Strange continued: "That's what loyal friends do. Sometimes it's more than politics sometimes it's about just a friendship."

Trump on Tuesday night deleted several tweets he previously sent expressing his support for Strange.