Roy Moore, Luther Strange move to runoff for Ala. U.S. Senate race

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Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore and sitting Sen. Luther Strange will face off in a runoff election to decide the Republican nominee for the rest of Jeff Sessions’ Senate term.

Republicans voting Tuesday did not give a single candidate more than 50 percent of the vote, resulting in the top two vote-getters moving on to a runoff election Sept. 26.

Republican voters gave Moore an 8-point lead over Strange, 40 to 32 percent, with 66 of 67 counties reporting. Huntsville Republican Congressman Mo Brooks came in third at 20 percent, with state Sen. Trip Pittman of Baldwin County getting seven percent and Alabama Christian Coalition president Randy Brinson with less than one percent. Unofficial results put turnout at about 15 percent, with 500,390 votes cast of 3,281,781 total registered voters. More than 376,000 Republicans cast ballots.

Other Republican candidates receiving less than one percent include Dr. James Beretta, Joseph Breault, Mary Maxwell and Bryan Peeples.

The contentious primary featured bitter accusations between Strange and Brooks, which cast no small doubt on whether the sitting incumbent — who enjoyed endorsements from both President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — could come in either first or second.

What did not help was that Strange was appointed in February by then-Gov. Robert Bentley, who later resigned in disgrace after a sex scandal.

Strange also struggled with his association with McConnell, whose popularity plummeted among Republicans. Brooks constantly hammered McConnell, calling the Majority Leader the Senate’s “Swamp King.” McConnell’s Senate Leadership Fund had run waves of negative ads during the primary — many supporting Strange, but much more against Brooks, calling him a “career politician” and blasting his nonsupport of Trump in 2016.

Late in the race, Strange finally received Trump’s endorsement (on Twitter), even though Strange also did not publicly endorse the New York real estate mogul during last year’s presidential primaries.

As for Democrats, former federal prosecutor Doug Jones looks to be winning the primary outright with more than 61 percent of the votes cast. Jones, received a late-primary endorsement from former Vice President Joe Biden.

While he led polling throughout the primary season, Kennedy’s name recognition — despite being unrelated to the famous Kennedy clan — helped earn him only 21 percent of Democratic primary voters.

Other Democrats in the race were pastor Will Boyd, a former Greenville, Illinois City Councilman (who received six percent); Talladega County Constable Vann Caldwell,  businessman Jason Fisher (two percent); activist Michael Hansen (who also received seven percent) and Charles Nana.

Given Alabama’s strong Republican lean (the state elected Trump by nearly 28 points over Hillary Clinton), whoever wins the runoff — either Moore or Strange — will most likely represent the state in the U.S. Senate. The general election is Dec. 12.

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