BIRMINGHAM, AL. - Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones are vying for a seat in the U.S. Senate in Alabama on Tuesday, December 12, 2017.
Alabama Democrats see Tuesday’s special Senate election as a chance to renounce a history littered with politicians whose race-baiting, bombast and other baggage have long soiled the state’s reputation beyond its borders.
Many Republicans see the vote as chance to ratify their conservative values and protect President Donald Trump’s agenda ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.
The winner will take the seat held previously by Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions. Republicans control the Senate with 52 seats.
Follow Alabama Special Election Senate results below:
Final push for Moore and Jones in Alabama Senate race
The matchup mixes both Alabama’s tortured history and the nation’s current divisive, bitterly partisan politics, and it has made a spectacle of a Deep South state well acquainted with national scrutiny but not accustomed to competitive general elections.
“This is an election to tell the whole world what we stand for,” Jones told supporters at one stop Sunday, adding that his campaign “is on the right side of history.” At an earlier appearance, he declared Alabama is “at a crossroads” and that Moore, an unapologetic evangelical populist, tries only to “create conflict and division.”
Jones, 63, stops short of explicitly comparing Moore to the four-term Gov. George Wallace, whose populism was rooted in segregation. But Jones alluded Sunday to that era of Alabama politics.
“Elect a responsible man to a responsible office,” Jones said, repeating the campaign slogan of another Alabama governor, Albert Brewer, who nearly defeated Wallace in 1970 in a contest Alabama liberals and many moderates still lament as a lost opportunity.
Obama tells Alabama voters to reject Roy Moore
Former President Barack Obama is adding his voice to the Alabama Senate race, imploring voters to go to the polls Tuesday to reject the candidacy of Roy Moore as part of an aggressive effort by Democrats to try and counter President Donald Trump's full-throated endorsement of the controversial Republican candidate.
"This one's serious," Obama says in the call. "You can't sit it out."
Two Democratic officials familiar with the Alabama race tell CNN that Obama recorded the phone message in recent days, at the very time Trump stepped up his own involvement in the campaign with a recorded message. Obama does not mention Moore by name.
"Doug Jones is a fighter for equality, for progress," Obama says. "Doug will be our champion for justice. So get out and vote, Alabama."
Obama's message to voters -- intended to specifically reach black voters whose turnout is critical for Democratic candidate Jones -- comes on the eve of a special election that has drawn extraordinary national attention and divided the Republican Party over whether sexual allegations against Moore make him unfit for office.
Multiple women have accused Moore of pursuing relationships with them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s, and one woman has accused him of sexual assault.
The pre-recorded calls from Obama mark his latest return to the political stage less than a year after leaving the White House. He campaigned for Democratic gubernatorial candidates in Virginia and New Jersey, both of whom won their races last month.
It's an open question whether Obama or Trump can wield any influence on the race, but the dueling presidential messages underscore the fiercely competitive nature of the Senate contest that has taken on outsized proportions.
Here's what to watch:
1. Does Moore's history matter?
Even before the allegations of pursuing sexual relationships with teens, Moore was the most controversial major-party Senate nominee in recent memory.
He was booted as an Alabama Supreme Court chief justice for refusing to remove a two-ton statue of the Ten Commandments he'd ordered placed on state property. He was elected back to the job, but ousted again in 2016 for refusing to institute the US Supreme Court's decision legalizing same-sex marriage.
Moore has said being gay should be a criminal offense. He's said the United States would have been better off stopping at 10 amendments to the Constitution -- ignoring the reality that those abolishing slavery and establishing the voting rights of women and minorities came later. And he's said Muslims (such as Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison and Indiana Rep. Andre Carson) should not be allowed to serve in Congress.
On the trail, Moore campaigns aggressively against transgender rights.
In recent weeks, several women accused Moore of pursuing sexual relationships with them while they were teenagers and he was in his 30s. One was 14 at the time. Others have alleged that Moore sexually assaulted them.
Tuesday's election will gauge whether any of that matters -- or whether Alabama's evangelical base and his party label prove more important.
2. The Trump effect
The tradeoff for national Republicans is fairly clear: If Moore wins, he's a reliable vote in a Senate that's split 52-48 -- which could pay off on tax reform and more. He could also be a lasting headache that could taint the party everywhere.
The Republican who thinks it's all worth it: President Donald Trump.
Moore and his allies -- most notably former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon -- have attempted to turn the race into a choice for the Republican base between the popular Trump and the unpopular Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Trump held a campaign-style rally in Pensacola, 25 miles from the Alabama border, on Friday night, and repeatedly tweeted his support for Moore, saying Jones is weak on immigration, national security and would vote against the GOP tax bill. The President has also questioned the credibility of Moore's accusers and cast Jones -- who made his name prosecuting two Ku Klux Klan members for a Birmingham church bombing that killed four African-American girls -- as soft on crime.
If Moore wins, it'll give Trump a firm claim on control of the Republican Party, its base and its message headed into the 2018 midterms. He will undoubtedly seek credit for helping the controversial candidate over the top.
But he has a lot to lose as well should Moore fail. It will be evidence a scorched-earth campaign doesn't guarantee a GOP win, and a reminder for Republicans that the President with only a 32% approval rating can be a major drag on their re-election chances in 2018.
In a sign that Trump hasn't swayed all Republicans to vote for Moore, the state's senior senator, Richard Shelby -- the last Democrat elected to a Senate seat from Alabama, in 1992, before he switched parties -- said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union" that he didn't vote for Moore.
"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," he said.
Why? For the reason Moore's campaign fears: the sexual allegations.
"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," Shelby said.
3. Did the massive (but quiet) national Democratic operation work?
Former President Barack Obama cut a robocall for Jones that went out Monday. It was a boon to the Jones campaign's efforts to turn out African-American voters -- but to hear the candidate tell it Monday morning, the whole thing was a mystery.
"The only robocall I know about for sure is the one from my wife," he told reporters at a Birmingham diner.
That's how Democrats played the entire special election in Alabama.
A shadowy super PAC called Highway 31 pumped more than $4 million into the race to support Jones without disclosing much about its origins. On Monday, Politico reported that it was a joint project of the Senate Majority PAC and Priorities USA Action, the two massive national Democratic super PACs.
Jones' campaign was even shy about its focus on turning out African-American voters, who make up 27% of the state's registered voter pool and on whom Jones is counting on a massive turnout.
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis of Georgia led a weekend of high-profile surrogate events through the state. But Jones' campaign, aware it needs at least around one-third of white voters' support to stand a chance, insisted that it was equally concerned about turning out voters of all ethnicities.
If it works, it could give Democrats some new tactics to use when its candidates find themselves in close races in reliably red states where the national Democratic brand would alienate voters.
4. As Mobile goes, so goes Alabama?
There's a reason Trump's event was in Pensacola, and Moore closed his campaign with big rallies in Fairhope a week from election day and Midland City on Monday night: They're all in the Mobile media market.
The region is home to scores of more affluent, moderate, business-type Republicans -- that is, those most likely to abandon Moore and vote for Jones, write in someone else or stay home altogether.
If Jones is going to win, he can't rely purely on turning out his base and hoping Republicans stay home. He'll need some white, conservative supporters, and the Mobile region is his best chance to win some.
Those are the voters Moore's supporters have targeted with a message that the election is a referendum on Trump's agenda.
"It's an up-or-down vote tomorrow between the Trump miracle and the nullification project," Bannon said Monday night in Midland City.
5. A sign of primary trouble for Republican incumbents?
The Moore campaign did Bannon a massive favor by leaning on him as the leader of the army of "deplorables."
If Moore wins, Bannon will get a lot of the credit -- even though his engagement in the Alabama race lasted just about four months, while Moore has been a public figure and controversy magnet in the state for nearly four decades.
Bannon envisions Moore's defeat of Sen. Luther Strange in the primary -- and, he hopes, subsequent victory -- as the first of many dominoes to fall in the 2018 midterm cycle.
He's aggressively backing a primary challenger to Nevada Sen. Dean Heller. He helped chase Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake into retirement. And he's backing candidates in primaries in 2018 battlegrounds like Montana and West Virginia.
The whole thing could give the GOP establishment a huge headache -- and a Moore victory would lend Bannon's grandiose plans some credibility. A loss could send Republicans back to the drawing board in search of new ways to handle the reality of an unpopular president leading their party.
Doug Jones tells Alabamians to get out and vote on eve of special election
On the eve of the Alabama special election, Democratic Senate candidate Doug Jones rallied a crowd in Birmingham calling on Alabamians to turn out and vote.
"All we've got to do is make sure we get out our votes tomorrow," Jones told the crowd.
"I told folks, and told them all the time, if you called people today to say get up and vote, call them again tomorrow to make sure they got out and voted. Take people with you to the polls, grab folks that you can, because as we all know this election is going to be one of the most significant in our state's history in a long, long time," he later added.
Jones was joined by Alabama native and retired basketball star Charles Barkley at the rally, who told AL.com earlier Monday that "it can't be Roy Moore."
"To me it's silliness that this guy's trying to win," Barkley said, according to AL.com.
At the rally, Barkley said "it's not just about tomorrow," as he encouraged the crowd to vote on Tuesday.
"At some point, we got to stop looking like idiots to the nation," Barkley said.
Jones is battling Republican nominee Moore to fill the seat previously held for two decades by now-US Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
The race has garnered national attention with multiple women accusing Moore of attempting to pursue sexual relationships with them many years ago, when they were teenagers and Moore was in his 30s. Moore has also been accused of molesting a 14-year-old and sexually assaulting a 16-year-old. Moore has denied any inappropriate behavior.
Both candidates have seen significant backing from their respective parties. President Donald Trump announced his full endorsement of the controversial Republican candidate last week, which was later followed by support from the Republican National Committee, despite multiple GOP lawmakers condemning Moore amid the allegations.
The allegations against Moore have also come during a time of national reckoning surrounding sexual assault, harassment and misconduct.
Jones received support from several big-name Democrats in the closing days of the race, including robocalls by former President Barack Obama and campaigning in the state by Sen. Cory Booker, D-New Jersey.
"We've got to make sure at this crossroads in Alabama's history, we take the right road," Jones said Monday night.
The rally Monday night was the latest in a marathon of events Jones' held over the weekend, while Moore remained somewhat reclusive in the days leading up to the special election.
GOP senators on what to do if Roy Moore wins: 'We'll see'
Since the sexual assault allegations against Roy Moore first went public last month, Republicans in the Senate have gone to great lengths to distance themselves from their potential colleague.
Close to half of the 52-member majority promptly called for him to drop out of the Alabama Senate race. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said an ethics investigation is "almost certain" to take place if Moore becomes the next senator from Alabama. Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona even wrote a check to Moore's Democratic opponent -- and then tweeted a photo of it.
But few are willing to go as far as Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colorado, who last month said the Senate should vote to "expel" him.
On the eve of the special election between Moore and Democrat Doug Jones, many Republicans -- even some of Moore's fiercest critics -- were wary of wading into the hypothetical question of how to handle his possible arrival to Washington.
"I hope that Alabama voters choose the Democrats," Flake told reporters Monday night at the Capitol.
And if not?
"We'll see," the retiring Arizona senator said.
The Tuesday election comes less than a week after Senate Democrats rained down calls on Minnesota Sen. Al Franken to resign amid allegations of sexual harassment, attempting to send a signal of zero tolerance in the upper chamber.
One of the more immediate questions looming is whether Moore will be accepted into the GOP conference and given committee assignments, especially as he undergoes investigation as expected. Moore sharply denies the allegations made against him, and any probe would likely be a lengthy and arduous affair.
"Let's see what happens tomorrow. Let's address it after that," said Sen. Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican, said on Monday night. "Let's see what happens."
Sen. Richard Shelby, the senior senator from Alabama who refused to vote for Moore, said Monday that such decisions were for McConnell. "That's beyond me," he said. "First let's see what happens tomorrow and then go from there."
But McConnell also said that's a question for later. "That's a good conversation for sometime after tomorrow," McConnell said Monday.
While many senators support the idea of the ethics probe, any talk of expulsion carries far more weight. The Senate has only voted to expel 15 senators in the past, according to the Senate's historical records.
Republican senators have publicly struggled with the issue of potential expulsion, expressing sharp disdain for Moore on the one hand, but showing concern about balancing the people's will with the autonomy of the Senate on the other.
"I'll have a hard time, quite frankly, keeping somebody in the body that I think molested a child, but we'll see what happens," Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said. "We'll see what the people of Alabama say. But the Senate will also speak. There's a process within the Senate to regulate membership of the body. From a political point of view there is no winning with Roy Moore in my view."
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine mulled over the idea at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast less than two weeks ago. "If the voters of the state, fully knowing all of these allegations, nevertheless choose to elect Roy Moore, is it appropriate for the Senate to expel him?" Collins asked. "I think that's a really difficult question, and I don't know the answer to that yet."
One Republican senator, Rand Paul of Kentucky, has not publicly withdrawn his support for Moore's candidacy. He declined to answer questions Monday night in the Capitol.
Condoleezza Rice on Alabama election: 'Reject bigotry, sexism, and intolerance'
Former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is calling on Alabama voters to take part in Tuesday's special election for the US Senate, dubbing the race "one of the most significant in Alabama's history," according to AL.com.
"This week's special election will be one of the most significant in Alabama's history. As a native daughter, I remain -- at heart -- an Alabaman who loves our state and its devotion to faith, family, and country," Rice said in a statement, recalling her Alabama roots.
Republican Roy Moore will face off against Democrat Doug Jones in the special election to fill the seat that Republican Jeff Sessions occupied before he left last winter to become US attorney general.
The race has put a spotlight on a rift in the GOP over the 70-year-old Moore, a controversial candidate who has recently been accused by multiple women of attempting to engage in sexual relationships with them while they were teenagers and he was in his 30s. He has also been accused of molesting a 14-year-old and sexually assaulting a 16-year-old. Moore has denied any inappropriate behavior.
Despite condemnation of Moore from several Republican lawmakers, the White House and the Republican National Committee have put their support behind him.
Rice's statement doesn't cite any candidate by name but says it's "imperative" to "not give way to side shows and antics," AL.com reported.
"I know that Alabamans need an independent voice in Washington," the statement on AL.com reads. "But we must also insist that our representatives are dignified, decent, and respectful of the values we hold dear."
Jones is also known for his role as lead prosecutor in the lawsuit against two of four Ku Klux Klan members who were part of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in 1963, which killed four African-American girls -- who Rice knew as a child in Birmingham, Alabama.
"I encourage you to take a stand for our core principles and for what is right," Rice's statement continued, as reported on AL.com. "These critical times require us to come together to reject bigotry, sexism, and intolerance."
AL.com reports that Rice also says, "Please exercise your right to vote -- a privilege won by the sacrifices of our ancestors. Sustain the central ideals and values that make our country a beacon for freedom and justice for the sake of Alabama and for the good of the United States of America."
How a Democrat could win in Alabama
It hasn't happened in more than a decade, but it might just happen on Tuesday.
The last time a Democrat won a major statewide election in Alabama was in 2006, when Jim Folsom Jr., a former Alabama governor, won the lieutenant governorship after more than a decade out of politics. He won the seat against none other than Luther Strange, the Trump-backed incumbent who lost the primary to Moore this fall.
Folsom Jr., who comes from a famous Alabama political family (his dad was a two-term governor), won with a populist message that sounds straight out of 2016: The need to bring tens of thousand more manufacturing jobs to the state, invest in infrastructure and expand the military's presence. He boasted about his his love of church, leisure time spent hunting and years of experience in business. He said he'd work like an independent.
Folsom Jr. didn't win his lieutenant governor race in 2006 just by pure luck, though. With his deep connections in Alabama politics (including a dad who was known as "kissing Jim"), he won the right places, the kind that Democratic candidate Doug Jones will need to win too, if he's to be carried to victory.
Republican hopeful Roy Moore has campaigned through multiple allegations of sexual misconduct -- fending off calls for his ouster from congressional Republicans while gaining the endorsement of President Donald Trump -- to find himself on the cusp of winning a seat in the Senate.
But while the state is deep red today, Democrats have won before in Alabama, and a look at Trump's win, Moore's almost-loss and the 2006 lieutenant governor's race could give a road map to how it might happen again.
The 2006 race for lieutenant governor: Last major statewide race to go blue
The first place to watch is the "Black Belt" across the middle of the state, named for the black soil in that strip of land and known for its heavily African-American population. The nine counties with the largest pro-Folsom margin were found in this band of counties. And that doesn't even include Montgomery County -- home to the state's capital and the fourth-largest share of the vote in the 2006 race -- which delivered the largest raw vote margin for Folsom. This strip of counties is also home to nearly all of the majority-black counties in the state.
The other notable county to watch for Democrats is Jefferson County, home to the state's largest city of Birmingham and the highest share of the vote in the race. Even though Folsom won Jefferson County by only four points during his win in 2006, it was his second-largest raw margin of victory in the state. (The county accounted for one in seven votes cast in that race.)
But Folsom needed more than just the Black Belt and Jefferson County to win in dark red Alabama. He cut -- or even reversed -- Republican margins across the state, especially in counties surrounding Jefferson County -- like Tuscaloosa, Etowah, Talladega and Walker.
He also held the GOP margin to single digits in populous strongholds like Mobile and Madison, and he did excellently in the state's northwest, which have some of the highest-density of non-college educated whites. In counties like Franklin, Colbert, Lauderdale and Lawrence, Folsom earned as much as 68% of the vote.
Donald Trump's map: The typical GOP path to victory in Alabama
Democratic 2016 nominee Hillary Clinton won both major Democratic areas of the state in 2016: a dozen counties across the Black Belt -- most notably Montgomery -- plus Jefferson County. Jefferson County has delivered narrow margins to Democrats over the past decade, including a margin of seven points for Clinton in 2016 and a margin of six points for Barack Obama in 2012.
The main difference between Trump's map and Folsom's map? It's not Democrats running up the score in the solid blue counties. It's stripping away Republican support in the plethora of small, typically-Republican counties and winning handily in the state's heavily non-college educated northwestern counties.
Trump's margins of victory in the biggest eight counties in the state -- which account for roughly half of the votes cast in a statewide election -- were an average of nine points larger than Strange's margin there in 2006. In the rest of the counties, Trump's margin of victory in 2016 was, on average, 47 points wider than Strange's in 2006.
Trump, like most Republicans, won across all other regions of the state, from Madison County in the far northern part of the state to Mobile County in the far southern part of the state, near Trump's rally in Florida just days ago. Other typically Republican counties with important populations include Baldwin County, Tuscaloosa County, Lee County and Shelby County, which includes the crucial suburbs of Birmingham.
In the far northwest, where the long stretch of counties with high populations of non-college educated whites that starts in the Rust Belt and dips into the South, Trump shifted the demographic advantage typically enjoyed by Republicans, outperforming Romney the most. In Franklin, Colbert, Lauderdale and Lawrence, Trump improved on Romney's margins by as much as 11 points.
The time Moore almost lost: The 2012 race for the state Supreme Court
Moore has won statewide before, but not in a landslide. The last time Moore ran for statewide office, he won by a 52% to 48% margin in an election for chief justice of the state Supreme Court. The reason for his win? Holding onto small rural counties by just enough to eke out the victory.
Moore lost Jefferson County in 2012 -- which went for Democrats Clinton, Obama and Folsom by single digits -- by a broad 26-point margin. In next-door Shelby County, which includes the suburbs of Birmingham, Moore won by 27 points -- roughly half the broad margin by which Trump carried the county.
He got demolished in Montgomery County, the most populous spot in the Black Belt, by a whopping 42 points. He even lost the GOP's populous strongholds of Mobile County and Madison County by single digits -- both places Trump won in 2016 and Strange won in 2006.
But Moore went on to outperform Strange -- while still underperforming Trump -- in rural counties across the state, dragging his campaign across the finish line for a victory anyway.
Winning the nomination: How Roy Moore defeated Luther Strange
Strange only won four counties in his Trump-backed bid for the Republican nomination a few months ago: Madison County, Shelby County, Sumter County and Jefferson County.
Two of these are Clinton counties: Sumter is part of the Black Belt running through the central part of the state. Strange won it by 19 points. (Still, only a quarter of its 13,000 residents are white -- and the rest are likely to overwhelmingly vote for Jones.)
Jefferson County, on the other hand, poses much more of a threat to Moore. It's the most populous county in the state, but it's also one of the top five most-educated. Strange won the county by 17 points in the GOP primary runoff -- and college-educated whites there may be reluctant to rally around Moore in the general election.
Shelby and Madison counties -- the other two areas Strange won by single-digits -- are the two most educated counties in the state. Shelby includes the southeast suburbs of Birmingham and Madison includes Huntsville. That means these aren't small areas either: these two counties combined to account for one-in-eight votes cast in the 2016 presidential race.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect that Birmingham is Alabama's largest city, not its capital.
After bitter campaign, Alabama Senate race goes to voters
The bitter Senate race in deeply conservative Alabama went to the voters Tuesday as they chose between an embattled but well-known Republican accused of child molestation and a Democrat who hopes to break the GOP’s lock on the state and uphold “decency.”
Roy Moore, the 70-year-old GOP nominee who was twice ousted as state Supreme Court chief justice after flouting federal law, was attempting another political resurrection amid accusations of sexual misconduct with teenage girls when he was in his 30s.
Democrat Doug Jones, 63, is best known for prosecuting two Ku Klux Klansmen who killed four black girls in a 1963 church bombing.
The winner will take the seat previously held by Jeff Sessions, who resigned to become attorney general. Republicans hold a narrow 52-48 Senate majority. And a routine election in Republican-dominated Alabama would not normally be expected to alter that balance because the state has not sent a Democrat to the upper chamber of Congress since 1992. But the allegations against Moore created doubt about the outcome.
Although the race has commanded intense national attention for weeks, it was not likely to draw large numbers of people to the polls. Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill predicted that turnout would not exceed 25 percent of registered voters and could be as low as 18 percent.
Teresa Brown, a 53-year-old administrative assistant at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said she’s voting for Jones.
“We don’t need a pedophile in there,” said Brown, who was among more than two dozen people in line in the chilly morning air at Legion Field, a predominantly black precinct in Birmingham.
“We need someone that’s going to represent the state of Alabama, work across party lines ... just be there for all the people, not just a select few of the people.”
Al Bright, 63, who does refrigeration repair, voted for Moore.
“I just believe regardless of the allegations against him, I believe he is an honorable man,” Bright said.
Bright said he realized that Moore was removed from office because of actions he took to try to block same-sex marriage in the state.
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that because I believe in that as well,” he said. “I feel the same — marriage is between a man and a woman.”
Mary Multrie, 69, who works at a children’s hospital and voted for Jones, said she was not influenced by accusations of sexual misconduct against Moore because she already did not like him.
“He’s not a truthful man,” Multrie said. “He talks about God, but you don’t see God in his actions.”
Both President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama weighed in with last-minute robocalls trying to sway voters.
The intensity of the campaign also spawned a steady stream of fake news stories that filled social media feeds in Alabama and beyond.
An Associated Press analysis, in cooperation with Facebook, counted as many as 200 false or misleading reports heading into the weekend. One website claimed one of the women who accused Moore of sexual misconduct had recanted. She did not. Meanwhile, Moore’s detractors took to social media to claim he had written in a 2011 textbook that women should not hold elected office. He did not.
In his final pitch before polls opened across the state, Jones called the choice a “crossroads” and asked that “decency” prevail.
“We’ve had this history in the past, going down the road that ... has not been productive,” Jones said. “We’ve lagged behind in industry. We’ve lagged behind in education. We’ve lagged behind in health care. It’s time we take the road that’s going to get us on the path to progress.”
At his own election eve rally, Moore again denied the allegations against him, calling them “disgusting” and offering voters a clear measure: “If you don’t believe in my character, don’t vote for me.”
Earlier in the day, Moore cast himself as the victim. “It’s just been hard, a hard campaign,” he said.
For Alabama, the outcome could be defining.
Democrats and moderate Republicans see an opportunity to reject a politician who is already regular fodder for late-night television.
Alabama’s senior senator, Richard Shelby, confirmed publicly that he wrote in a “distinguished Alabama Republican” rather than vote for Moore.
Many other Republicans see an opportunity to defend the state’s conservative, evangelical bent in the face of liberal criticism while delivering another victory for Trump and sending an anti-establishment senator into a federal government that has been reflexively unpopular among Alabama majorities for generations.
Trump’s campaign architect and former White House adviser Steve Bannon told Moore supporters Monday evening that the race will determine whether the “Trump miracle” continues.
Also Monday, Moore’s wife fought back against accusations that her husband does not support blacks or Jews. Speaking at a rally, Kayla Moore pointed out that her husband appointed the first black marshal to the state Supreme Court and said that the couple has many friends who are black.
She also said that one of the couple’s attorneys is a Jew, a comment that drew a backlash on social media.
For Jones to win, he must build an atypical coalition, maximizing turnout among African-Americans and white liberals while coaxing votes from white Republicans who cannot pull the lever for Moore.
One of Jones’ celebrity backers framed the choice as being much less complicated.
“I love Alabama,” said former NBA basketball star Charles Barkley, a Leeds native who has talked in past years about running for governor. “But at some point we’ve got to draw a line in the sand and say, ‘We’re not a bunch of damn idiots.’”
DHS assisting with election security in Alabama
The Department of Homeland Security has agents on the ground in Montgomery to assist with election security in the Alabama special election, a senior department official said Tuesday.
No issues have been brought to the DHS's attention thus far, Christopher Krebs, the agency's top infrastructure and cyber official, told reporters.
Asked if there were any threats or efforts by attackers to probe the Alabama election for potential weaknesses attempts, Krebs said: "I'm not aware of any."
"We've been working with them on game-day planning for quite some time now," Krebs said of Alabama's election, saying the playbook has similar to what the department did with recent gubernatorial elections in November.
The agency's efforts on securing elections is threefold, he said. "First is information-sharing, second is technical support and third is incident response."
DHS is working to build on Alabama and the earlier gubernatorial elections and "we're kind of looking at that playbook approach on what the 2018 midterms look like."
One of the sticking points to boosting efforts with states is getting clearances for state election officials, including because they tend to be named in lawsuits which can complicate the clearance process, Krebs said.
Other support offered by the department includes cyber hygiene scans and self-assessments. Krebs could not say specifically how many states have had the hygiene scans, but estimated it's over 30 at least.
Krebs said there was no specific intelligence about current threats to election security.
"We come together as a government team to support state and locals," Krebs said of the federal approach to election security. "We learned our lessons last year and it is a priority going forward, so we will be ready for 2018. My sense is -- and this is just good practice -- is, they will be back."
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