Doug Jones will be the first Democratic U.S. senator from Alabama in over 20 years.
Jones bested Republican nominee Roy Moore statewide with 49.9 percent of the vote, edging out Moore's 48.4 percent. The Associated Press called the special election in favor of Jones just before 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
"Folks, I got to tell you, I think I have been waiting all of my life and now I just don't know what the hell to say," the newly elected senator told supporters at an election night watch party in Birmingham. "At the end of the day, this entire race has been about dignity and respect. This campaign has been about the rule of law. This campaign has been about common courtesy and decency."
Moore, who was twice removed from his post as Alabama's top judicial officer, has thus far refused to concede the race, saying there is a possibility of a recount. Jones finished with a 1.5 percentage point lead. Anything tighter than 0.5 percentage points would have triggered a recount.
Lee County, won by President Donald Trump in last year's general election by more than 22 percentage points, went blue tonight, with Jones nabbing over 57 percent of the county’s vote, outpacing Moore by 17 percentage points.
The change was a whopping 39-point swing.
That was the theme of the night — Jones running up the score in blue countries and outperforming historical trends in the others. In addition to Lee, Jones won big in Mobile, Madison
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Jones won Montgomery County with 72 percent of the vote and Jefferson County with almost 68 percent of the vote. The two counties are Alabama’s biggest Democratic counties. In 2016, Hillary Clinton captured 62 percent of Montgomery County’s vote and 52 percent of Jefferson County.
Alabama hasn’t gone in favor of a Democrat in a U.S. Senate race since 1992 when then-Democrat Sen. Richard Shelby was re-elected. Shelby switched parties in 1994. Howell Heflin was the last Democrat to serve in the role, he retired in 1996.
Democrats and Jones poured millions of dollars into this race, following a recent trend of challenging traditionally conservative area elections with a large number of resources.
National figures have made recent appearances for Jones in Alabama. Sen. Cory Booker joined Jones in Montgomery over the weekend in a last-second campaign effort. Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigned alongside Jones in Birmingham in October.
Jones will replace Republican Sen. Luther Strange, who was appointed to the seat by former Gov. Robert Bentley after Jeff Sessions resigned to become U.S. attorney general. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said Strange will serve until the end of the session this year.
The senator-elect will not serve a full six-year term before having to face another opponent. In 2020, Jones will have to mount a re-election campaign.
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Jones is an attorney from Birmingham who, as a federal prosecutor, successfully convicted two members of the Ku Klux Klan responsible for the 1963 Birmingham 16th Street Baptist Church bombing.
Jones’ defeat of the former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice, who is facing multiple allegations of inappropriate behavior toward underage girls, comes while the “#MeToo” movement is sweeping the world, and men in powerful positions, including in politics, have had to respond to allegations of sexual misconduct.
Last week, Sen. Al Franken announced that he will resign after facing sexual harassment allegations of his own.
In November, the Washington Post reported that Moore made sexual advances toward underage girls in his 30s while working as an assistant district attorney in Etowah County.
Despite these allegations, President Donald Trump, who has also been accused of sexual misconduct, endorsed Moore after an initial hesitation to support Moore after supporting Strange, his primary opponent.
“The people of Alabama will do the right thing,” Trump tweeted Tuesday morning. “Doug Jones is Pro-Abortion, weak on Crime, Military and Illegal Immigration, Bad for Gun Owners and Veterans and against the WALL. Jones is a Pelosi/Schumer Puppet. Roy Moore will always vote with us. VOTE ROY MOORE! [sic]”
Moore’s defeat may have alleviated a potential headache for McConnell who has waffled on Moore since his victory over Strange in September.
After The Post’s initial report came out, McConnell asked Moore to bow out of the campaign if the allegations were true, but earlier this month said he would “let the people of Alabama decide.”
According to CNN, GOP officials were planning to meet tomorrow morning to discuss what to do with Moore if he had won.
That’s no longer an issue for the Republican Party, but now they will have to figure out what to do after one of the nation’s most conservative states just elected a Democrat to the Senate and reduced their majority by one.
Chip Brownlee, editor-in-chief, contributed reporting from Birmingham.
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