Democrat Doug Jones Wins Alabama Senate Race in Blow to Trump

Jones won by 1 percent after a tight race that pit him against Republican Roy Moore, who is refusing to concede the election

Democratic U.S. Senator elect Doug Jones greets supporters during his election night gathering the Sheraton Hotel on December 12, 2017 in Birmingham, Alabama.
Justin Sullivan / AFP

In a major blow to President Donald Trump and the Republican Party, Democratic candidate Doug Jones on Tuesday won the special Senate election in Alabama, a state that has not voted for a Democratic Senator for more than two decades, and that went to Trump in the 2016 election by a margin of 28 percent points.

Jones beat Republican candidate Roy Moore by just 1 point. Moore led in the polls for most of the race, but lost a lot of his support after a number of women accused him sexual misconduct, including attempts to have sexual relationships with them when they were underage.

U.S. Senate Republican candidate Roy Moore rides a horse to vote, Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017
Brynn Anderson / AP

Moore gave a short speech in which he refused to concede the election, and said that it might go to a recount. The chance that will happen is very slim, because Jones' final margin of victory is 1.5 point, and Alabama law says a recount takes place if the margin is 0.5 point, a third of the actual margin.

President Trump went out of his way to support Moore's candidacy, even after the accusations about sexual misconduct were published last month and verified by a number of news outlets. Trump recorded phone messages in support of Moore, held a rally in his support last week, and sent out numerous tweets attacking Jones. Moore's loss will be perceived as a political humiliation for Trump.

Trump congratulated Jones in a tweet, saying "Congratulations to Doug Jones on a hard fought victory. The write-in votes played a very big factor, but a win is a win. The people of Alabama are great, and the Republicans will have another shot at this seat in a very short period of time. It never ends!"

In addition, the results are seen as a loss for Steve Bannon, Trump's former senior political adviser, who was a driving force behind Moore's campaign. Bannon and the far-right parts of the Republican Party helped Moore beat the incumbent Republican Senator, Luther Strange, in the party primary. Strange was the favorite candidate of the Republican party leadership.

The Republican loss comes just over a month after Democrats won gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey, but it will be considered a bigger political sensation because of Alabama's recent history as a definite Republican stronghold. Jones received massive support from the state's African-American community, which voted in higher numbers than in the 2012 Presidential elections. Jones received the endorsement of former President Obama, as well of former NBA star Charles Barkley, an Alabama native.

At Moore's last election event on Monday, his wife raised eyebrows by denying that the extremist candidate is anti-semitic, by stating that "one of our attorneys is a Jew." The Jewish Democratic Council of America said after the results that Jones' victory is "a Hanukkah gift for the American people" and "not a bad step for the first night" of Hanukkah.

Jones is a former prosecutor, whose most important achievement was sending KKK members who committed acts of terrorism to jail. He noted in his victory speech that the date of today's election is also his and his wife's 25th wedding anniversary.

Democrat Doug Jones, who won the Senate election, speaks during a campaign rally in Birmingham, Ala. on Dec. 10, 2017
Brynn Anderson / AP

Jones also used the opportunity to wish a happy Hanukkah "to all my Jewish friends." He added that his entire campaign was about two things - "dignity and respect."