In a surprising upset, Alabama went Democratic tonight. The vote in Alabama today was for the Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions, who now serves as the U.S. attorney general under Donald Trump. Prior to the polls closing at 8 p.m., Roy Moore was expected to triumph in rural, mostly white parts of the state. Doug Jones went after urban and black counties, including Birmingham and Montgomery.
The race was closely watched nationwide, as a Democrat hasn’t won in Alabama since the 1980s with Howell Heflin and Richard Shelby. Shelby eventually flipped and became a Republican in 1992. The race was also viewed as a gauge of the Republican party’s standing, as Moore’s campaign had been mired in allegations of sexual misconduct with teenage girls. On November 9, 2017, The Washington Post reported the account of a woman, Leigh Corfman, who claimed that Moore approached her at age 14 in Etowah County, Alabama, while she was sitting on a bench with her mother in 1979. During the exchange with her mother, Corfman said Moore offered to watch the young Corfman while she went into the courthouse for a child custody hearing. While Moore waited with her, he allegedly got her phone number. Days later, she claimed, Moore picked her up and molested her.
Soon after, more women came forward with similar stories, including Beverly Young Nelson, who had a signature by Moore in her yearbook that read, “To a sweeter more beautiful girl I could not say Merry Christmas. Christmas 1977. Love, Roy Moore, D.A.”
Over the weekend, President Trump explicitly endorsed Moore and recorded a robocall to Alabama voters urging them to turn out for Moore. Former President Obama followed that with a robocall of his own in support of Jones, sent out to Alabama voters on Monday.
In it, Obama says:
“Doug Jones is a fighter for equality, for progress. Doug will be our champion for justice. So get out and vote, Alabama.”
Alabama’s senior Senator Shelby and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had declined to support Moore.
On Sunday, Shelby said:
“I’d rather see the Republican win, but I’d rather see a Republican write-in. I couldn’t vote for Roy Moore. I didn’t vote for Roy Moore… I think, so many accusations, so many cuts, so many drip, drip, drip — when it got to the 14-year-old’s story, that was enough for me. I said I can’t vote for Roy Moore.”
Not surprisingly, memes from both sides are circulating. See them here: