Roy Moore loses divisive Alabama senate race in blow to Donald Trump
Roy Moore has lost his fight to be elected to the Senate in Alabama, beaten by Doug Jones, his Democrat rival, after a campaign dominated by accusations against Mr Moore of sexual assault of children. The result was a big blow to President Donald Trump, who had gone against the advice of his inner circle to back the tarnished Republican. The Democrat's campaign headquarters erupted in joyous disbelief as the news was announced, with scenes of jubilation. "I have been waiting all my life, and now I just don't know what to say," said Mr Jones, taking to the stage with his wife, mother and supporters, looking genuinely amazed. "I have always believed that the people of Alabama have more in common than divide us. We have shown the country the way that we can be unified. Alabama state election results "Alabama has been at a crossroads. Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, you took the right road." Trump says 'I was right!' Mr Trump initially tweeted his congratulations to Mr Jones. 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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 13, 2017 But he followed up with a second tweet on Wednesday morning, declaring that he was "right" to earlier endorse Moore's rival candidate, Luther Strange, in the Alabama Republican Senate primary. "The reason I originally endorsed Luther Strange (and his numbers went up mightily), is that Roy Moore will not be able to win the General Election. I was right! Roy worked hard but the deck was stacked against him!". The reason I originally endorsed Luther Strange (and his numbers went up mightily), is that I said Roy Moore will not be able to win the General Election. I was right! Roy worked hard but the deck was stacked against him!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 13, 2017 Despite Mr Trump's acceptance of the result, Mr Moore refused to concede and raised the possibility of a recount during a brief appearance at a sombre campaign party in Montgomery. "It's not over," Mr Moore said. "We know that God is still in control." With 99 percent of the vote counted, Jones had a 1.5 percentage-point lead over Moore. The Republican said votes were still coming in and that state law would allow a recount if the margin was within half a percent. Mr Jones's win, the first by a Democratic Senate candidate in Alabama since 1992, shrinks the Republicans' Senate majority to 51 seats. US senate - Republicans hold the Senate by a slender margin "At the end of the day, this entire race has been about dignity and respect," he said. "This campaign has been about the rule of law. This campaign has been about common courtesy and decency. "And to all of my future colleagues in Washington: there are important issues facing this country, of healthcare and jobs. We've tried to make sure that this campaign was about finding common ground, reaching across and getting things done." Historic city of Selma plays decisive role Mr Jones concluded his speech by quoting Martin Luther King - and the civil rights leader's daughter Bernice was celebrating. Selma, Lord, Selma. It’s no coincidence that Selma, where blood was shed in the struggle for voting rights for Black people, pushed #DougJones ahead for good. #Alabama— Be A King (@BerniceKing) December 13, 2017 Mr Jones successfully fought to cobble together an unlikely coalition of African-Americans, liberal whites and moderate Republicans. He had his strongest support across Alabama's "black belt," named for the colour of its soil, and in the larger urban areas, including Montgomery, Birmingham, Mobile, Tuscaloosa and Huntsville. Turnout in those areas, which features a large African-American population, also ran higher than in some of the more heavily Republican parts of the state. The result capped a highly controversial campaign in which Mr Moore faced allegations of sexual misconduct toward teenagers. The Democrat's victory in the deeply conservative Southern state will test the political clout of the US president, who endorsed Mr Moore - despite pleas from senior Republicans and White House aides not to. Despite Doug Jones' win, Roy Moore won some areas by huge margins Other Republican leaders had refused to back their party's candidate. Mr Moore has been accused by multiple women of pursuing them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s, including one woman who said he tried to initiate sexual contact with her when she was 14. Mr Moore, 70, has denied any misconduct and painted the election campaign as a battle between conservative Alabamians and a Washington elite determined to install their own candidate. He was strongly supported by Steve Bannon, Mr Trump's former chief strategist. The result narrows the Republicans' already slim majority in the Senate to 51-49. How did the Democrats win? Jones, the Democrat candidate, succeeded by building a coalition of black people, young people and women. In an exit poll conducted by Edison Research, 96 per cent of African Americans supported Jones - a similar level seen when President Obama attracted 95 per cent among this group in 2012. Jones still managed, crucially, to attract 30 per cent among white voters, allowing him to cross the line. The exit poll revealed that 57 per cent of women voted for the Democrat - with many voters thinking that allegations of sexual misconduct against Roy Moore are true. Age was another big dividing line in the election, with three in five of those aged between 18 and 29 voting for Jones - and an equal share of those aged over 65 backing the Republican. The Democrats were boosted by women , young and black people 'We can't stop now': Jubilant Democrats issue rallying call ahead of mid-term elections That imperils already-uncertain Republican tax, budget and health proposals and injects tremendous energy into the Democratic Party's early push to reclaim House and Senate majorities in 2018. Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate beaten by Mr Trump, was quick to look ahead to future races. Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts senator considered a likely Democratic 2020 presidential candidate, also issued a rallying call to the party. Tonight, Alabama voters elected a senator who'll make them proud. And if Democrats can win in Alabama, we can -- and must -- compete everywhere. Onward!— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) December 13, 2017 "We can’t stop now. The 2018 elections are less than a year away," she tweeted. "We must invest in campaigns across the country. We must take a stand against the hateful ideologies that have been making their way back into our country’s highest offices. And we must fight harder than ever before." Chuck Schumer, the Senate Democratic leader, said that Mr Jones would be "an outstanding Senator": Doug Jones will be an outstanding Senator who will represent Alabama well. He was a great candidate and will be an even better Senator.— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) December 13, 2017 Bernie Sanders, the Democratic Senator, offered his “congratulations to the people of Alabama for doing what few thought they would do". "This is a victory not just for Jones and Democrats," he added. "It is a victory for justice and decency.” Many Washington Republicans, meanwhile, viewed the defeat of Mr Moore as perhaps the best outcome for the party nationally despite the short-term sting. The fiery Christian conservative's positions have alienated women, racial minorities, gays and Muslims - in addition to the multiple allegations that he was guilty of sexual misconduct with teens, one only 14, when he was in his 30s. "Short-term pain, long-term gain," former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman, a Republican, tweeted. Short term pain, long term gain. Roy Moore and Steve Bannon losing tonight is big win for the GOP. We will survive 2 years of D. Jones. Moore would have buried GOP in 2018.— Norm coleman (@normcoleman) December 13, 2017 In backing Mr Moore, the president made a risky bet - and lost big. Democrats already were confident they had a strong chance to retake the US House of Representatives in next year’s congressional elections. Mr Jones' narrow victory increases their once-long odds of retaking control of the Senate as well. Wake-up call for Republicans If Democrats were to recapture both chambers, they would serve as a check on Mr Trump’s agenda and might even initiate impeachment proceedings against him. "That Republicans lost in one of the most Republican states in the nation is a wake-up call no matter how flawed their candidate was," said Jesse Ferguson, a Democratic strategist and former aide to Democrat Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. Democrats never expected to have a chance in Alabama, where they had not won a U.S. Senate race in 25 years. But the combination of Trump’s unpopularity, the sexual misconduct allegations that erupted against Moore in November, and Trump's enthusiastic support of him anyway gave them the opportunity, experts said. “Trump was the one who got Jones within firing range, and Moore allowed Jones to win,” said Kyle Kondik, a political analyst at the University of Virginia.