In a stunning rebuke to President Donald Trump, Democrat Doug Jones is projected to win Alabama's Senate election, upsetting scandal-ridden Republican Roy Moore in one of America's deepest red states, according to NBC News.
The projected win Tuesday by Jones — the first in an Alabama Senate race by a Democrat in 25 years — could derail the GOP's sprawling economic agenda in the coming months.
Jones' expected win to fill Attorney General Jeff Sessions' former seat will knock the GOP Senate majority down to 51 seats. It creates an even slimmer margin for Republicans as they try to pass a tax overhaul — and potentially other major legislation — with only party votes.
Jones, 63, is expected to prevail in a state that Trump carried easily last year as accusations of teen sexual abuse trailed Moore, a former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice. Current Sen. Richard Shelby last won an election for an Alabama Senate seat as a Democrat in 1992. He later switched to the GOP in 1994.
Jones, who never before ran for office, previously served as a federal prosecutor in Alabama after getting confirmed in 1997. As a candidate, he repeatedly highlighted his role in convicting two former Ku Klux Klan members involved in an Alabama church bombing decades earlier.
"Thank you ALABAMA!!" he tweeted on Tuesday night, shortly after news outlets began calling the race.
The former U.S. attorney has pushed for a "living wage," equal pay for women, health care as a right and criminal justice reform. As a Democrat hoping to represent Alabama, Jones did not fully portray himself as the "liberal" Trump and Moore cast him as. Rather, Jones has described himself as a "Second Amendment guy" seeking only modest gun regulations, and he has said he could support tax cuts for corporations, while opposing the current GOP tax plan overall.
Despite Jones' record as a prosecutor, Trump repeatedly claimed that he is "soft on crime."
A Republican Party divided on Moore left Jones with a strong opportunity to win the seat. Polling going into Tuesday's election gave wildly different reads on the race. A Fox News poll released Monday estimated that Jones had a 10-percentage-point advantage, while an Emerson College poll showed Moore with a 9-point lead.
One of the strongest rebukes of Moore came from Shelby, who has represented Alabama in Congress for nearly 40 years.
"I couldn't vote for Roy Moore," Shelby, who has said he wrote in another name, told CNN on Sunday. "The state of Alabama deserves better."
Moore lacked support from Senate GOP leaders, who said he would face an ethics investigation immediately if he got elected. Trump and his former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon explicitly endorsed Moore, while the Republican National Committee put money into his campaign.
Multiple women said Moore pursued sexual relationships with them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s. One of the women said she was 14 when he initiated a sexual relationship. Another accused Moore of sexually assaulting her when she was 16.
Moore denies the accusations.
But the sexual abuse allegations against Moore clearly became a major part of the race.
"I damn sure believe that I have done my part to ensure that men who hurt little girls should go to jail and not the United States Senate," Jones said in an address earlier this month.
The Alabama secretary of State's office said it likely will not certify the election results until Dec. 27 at the earliest. Jones likely would not get sworn in until next month.
Jones has signaled that he will oppose the GOP's tax bill, meaning Senate Republicans could only lose one vote and still pass their plan once he is seated.
Republicans can still lose two votes and pass their tax reform bill by their target date, Friday, Dec. 22. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., already opposes the tax reform plan. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, could also decide to vote against it once she sees a final deal between House and Senate negotiators.
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