Firebrand jurist Moore wins GOP primary runoff in Alabama

Former Alabama Chief Justice and U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore waves to the crowd during his election party Sept. 26, 2017, in Montgomery, Ala. Moore won the Alabama Republican primary runoff for U.S. Senate, defeating an appointed incumbent backed by President Trump and allies of Sen. Mitch McConnell. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Firebrand jurist Roy Moore won the Alabama Republican primary runoff for U.S. Senate on Tuesday (Sept. 26), defeating an appointed incumbent backed by both President Trump and deep-pocketed allies of Sen. Mitch McConnell.

In an upset certain to rock the GOP establishment, Moore clinched a 9-point victory over Sen. Luther Strange to take the GOP nomination for the seat previously held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Moore will face Democrat Doug Jones in a Dec. 12 special election.

It was a political resurrection for the 70-year-old former Alabama chief justice, who was twice removed from those duties after taking stands for public display of the Ten Commandments and against gay marriage. Moore, in his victory speech, returned to themes of God and government, saying he had “never prayed to win this campaign” but only that “God’s will be done.”

“We have to return the knowledge of God and the Constitution of the United States to the United States Congress,” Moore told a cheering crowd in his victory party in Montgomery.

Moore predicted the race could be a bellwether for the 2018 midterms, saying the victory tells the establishment in “Washington, D.C., that their wall has been cracked and will now fall.”

The race has pitted Trump against his former strategist Steve Bannon who had argued Moore was a better fit for the “populist” movement. Introducing Moore, Bannon told a frenzied crowd that the victory was a repudiation of the “fat cats” of Washington who pumped millions into the Alabama race to boost Strange.

Bannon declared Moore’s win a victory for Trump, despite the president’s support for Strange. Moore said he supports the president and his agenda.

After the race, Trump tweeted his congratulations to Moore, noting that “Luther Strange started way back & ran a good race.” Trump and Moore spoke by telephone later Tuesday night.

The Senate Leadership Fund, a group with ties to McConnell, had spent an estimated $9 million trying to secure the nomination for Strange.

SLF President and CEO Steven Law said Tuesday that Moore won the nomination “fair and square” and the group will now back him. Law says Moore “has our support, as it is vital that we keep this seat in Republican hands.”

In a statement, McConnell congratulated Moore and said Senate Republicans are committed to keeping the seat in GOP hands.

Even though Alabama has not sent a Democrat to the U.S. Senate in two decades, Democrats are hopeful they have an opening in the December election against Moore.

Jones is a former U.S. attorney best known for prosecuting the Klansmen who killed four girls in a 1963 church bombing. He said Tuesday that he wanted to focus the race on the “kitchen table issues” that matter to all Alabamians, “health care, education for our kids, jobs and a living wage.”

Strange supporters were at least somewhat divided on how they will approach the general election in December.

“It will be closer than if Luther had won” the nomination, said Perry Hooper, a former state lawmaker who predicted some Republicans will stay home in December or even vote for Jones.

But Hooper, who served as Trump’s Alabama campaign chief, said he’s all in for Moore. “Ultimately, this is about helping the president,” Hooper said. “This is a Republican state, and Roy will help the president.”

Moore was twice elected chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court and twice removed from those duties. In 2003, he was removed from office for disobeying a federal judge’s order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state courthouse lobby. Last year, he was permanently suspended after a disciplinary panel ruled he had urged probate judges to defy federal court decisions on gay marriage and deny wedding licenses to same-sex couples. He denied that accusation.

Strange told his supporters that “we wish (Moore) well going forward.” But he quickly shifted to his own bewilderment at the race he just finished.

“We’re dealing with a political environment that I’ve never had any experience with,” Strange said.

Strange also thanked Trump and Vice President Mike Pence for backing him. Trump, Strange said, may “be criticized” for coming to Alabama on his behalf. “Sometimes it’s just about friendship … a common goal to make the country better,” he said.

Creative Commons

Ten Commandments monument placed in the Alabama judicial building in 2002 by Roy Moore

Moore, propelled by evangelical voters, consolidated support from a number of anti-establishment forces, including the pro-Trump Great America Alliance and Bannon.

Moore led Strange by about 25,000 votes in the crowded August primary, which went to a runoff between the two because neither topped 50 percent in the voting.  The low-turnout election gave an advantage to Moore as his loyal supporters flooded the polls.

Strange, the state’s former attorney general, was appointed to Sessions’ seat in February by then-Gov. Robert Bentley, who resigned two months later as lawmakers opened impeachment hearings against him. Throughout the Senate race, Strange had been dogged by criticisms of accepting the appointment from a scandal-battered governor when his office was in charge of corruption investigations.

On the outskirts of Montgomery, 76-year-old Air Force retiree John Lauer said Trump’s endorsement swayed him to vote for Strange on Tuesday.

“I voted for Strange. I’m a Trump voter. Either one is going to basically do the Trump agenda, but since Trump came out for Luther, I voted for Luther,” said Lauer said.

Many at Moore’s victory party had supported the former chief justice through the years in his stands over the Ten Commandments and other issues.

“I’m so happy. I prayed and God answered my prayers,” Patricia Riley Jones of Abbeville said as she outstretched her arms to hold a Moore sign and America flags high aloft above her head. “He’s a great Christian man. He stood up for God.”

(Associated Press writer Jay Reeves contributed to this story)

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  • – “”We have to return the knowledge of God and the Constitution of the United States to the United States Congress,” Moore told a cheering crowd…”

    So why isn’t that knowledge there already, since Congress is packed with white, far-right Republican born-againers? Oh, that’s right – Roy Moore’s Reconstructionist Calvinism is the only true Christian religion, so all those other measly little Arminian, non-denominational heretics need to be shown the True Way.

    – “”I’m so happy. I prayed and God answered my prayers,” Patricia Riley Jones of Abbeville said…”

    Evangelicalism has always tended to regard its god as a wish-granting genii more than anything else, hasn’t it?

  • Moore is an exceptionally dangerous individual. It will be interesting to see how many folks in Alabama vote for him.

    He’s dangerous because he’s said nonsense like “god’s law should take precedence over man’s law”–i.e. the Constitution; he’s defied TWO court orders; and engaged in other actions very dangerous to liberty. It will be interesting as well to see how many “religious organizations” protest his statements, particularly conservative outfits.

  • This is a lot of hate you have shared in one comment; that one naive woman’s harmless comment stirs up such hate, shows more than you know.

  • If you see ‘hate’ in anything I wrote, then you must be going insane with every new Trump tweet that comes out. And if they don’t upset you, then that shows more about you than you know.

  • I read (on Wiki) that in his autobiography, Moore mentions his fear of being fragged in vietnam (i.e. by his own men).

    Gee, what a surprise.

  • Unfortunately for the good people of Alabama the primary contest did not address why the state is 44th in educational attainment, 47th in income, and is unable to replace the tunnel in Mobile, an antiquated death trap named after segregationist George Wallace.

  • Roy Moore neither respects nor understands religious liberty or our Jeffersonian/Madisonian heritage of religious freedom and church-state separation. I just hope that Alabama voters will have the good sense in December to elect the Democratic candidate for Senate. — Edd Doerr

  • Perhaps Moore sees it from a different perspective, such as ministerial duty law which the SCOTUS has flaunted in the face of our Constitution. Perhaps there are some voters that respect the Constitution regardless of their education or position in life.

  • Talk about a dotard. Pulling out a gun on stage at a political rally indicates the level of respect this guy has for the office he will be holding when elected. He lacks respect for himself, for his state, for the country. Tax cut? Forget it. I just want decent government, with level headed representatives whether they are atheists, Zoroastrians, Christians, Jews, Muslims, and as long as they are of good will and have a degree of wisdom.

  • Read it more slowly.
    There are observations.
    Then there are questions.
    Then there are opinion based answers.
    Because the opinions don’t match yours doesn’t mean they are based on hate.

  • Not quite sure what your meaning is here.
    “Official duty is ministerial when it is absolute, certain, and imperative, involving merely execution of a specific duty arising from fixed and designated facts; that a necessity may exist for the ascertainment of those facts does not operate to convert the act into one discretionary in its nature.”

  • But they wouldn’t be the christianist voters who voted for suppression of religious freedom of gay people, and the individuals, churches, ministers, and entire denominations that don’t share their theological opinions about gay people and our place in society.

  • Quoted “We have to return the knowledge of God and the Constitution of the United States to the United States Congress,” Moore told a cheering crowd in his victory party in Montgomery. 

    OK, Mr Moore. I invite you to begin this process with me. Track me down and force me to have whatever “knowledge of [your] God and the Constitution” that you demand I have. Go ahead. Do whatever you think you need to, in order to get me to think as you want. Lock and load. Just do it! Force me to become the militant Christofascist you obviously want all Americans to become. 

    It won’t work, but as I said, I invite you to give it your best shot. Whatever methods you deem appropriate, are fine with me. 

  • “Perhaps Moore sees it from a different perspective, such as ministerial
    duty law which the SCOTUS has flaunted in the face of our Constitution.”

    Nope. Not one bit. Moore has shown utter contempt for the Constitution, rule of law, and the judicial system he swore an oath twice (because he was kicked off the bench once for ethical violations).

    Those voters have shown a similar disregard for rule of law and constitutional principles in favor of demanding special privilege for being evangelical Christians.

  • Oh I want him to give it his best shot! I mean that. I want him to show what he really thinks. If he shows up at my house, puts a gun to my head, and says “Convert, you insolent agnostic, or die!” I absolutely want that to happen. I want the world to know. 

    On the other hand, if he never takes up that — or any other similar challenge — then we know he’s really just a kind of “chicken hawk,” talking big about the need for his God being necessary for all Americans, but never willing to actually get off his sorry little backside and do what it takes to make his beliefs universal. Even if “what it takes” is the use of lethal force. 

    In other words … I’m daring him, because I think that Moore — like all other fierce, dour, sanctimonious religiofascists — deep down, despite all his angry bluster, is just a lazy coward. 

  • Considering the disrespect that Moore has shown for the Constitution over the years, hopefully those Constitution-respecting voters will vote for the Democratic opponent.

  • We need to understand that some folks have not yet come to grips that their side lost the Civil War.

    On the other hand, fighting over the placement of the ten commandments is the sort of thing that results in a back lash giving us Moore and Trump or allowing us to get all worked up over standing, kneeling or what ever for the national anthem when there are much greater issues to worry about such as growing poverty and pollution. These are the distractions that allow such lowlife politicians to gain power.

  • Those of us living in #50 in education, South Carolina, (2017 US News & World Report), we are jealous of Alabama’s higher ranking! Having lived in the South since 1972 I believe the unique culture and southern brand of conservative Christianity has been a hindrance that they are still struggling to overcome.

  • yeah i, head those myths in vietnam too. that, resulted in propaganda from the north. and never happened while i was, there. bad commanders in the field, did not last long enough for that to happen. i, know we went through enough of them. and unfortunately took some good soldiers with them when they did.

  • do you understand the constitution, as to where our unalienable rights come from? that men, are endowed with certain unalienable rights from our CREATOR.

    so do not tell me that the bill of rights, does not take precedence over the laws of men trying to eliminate them.

    how ignorant are people today, of our nations and state constitutions.

  • some christianity, may not be the best of religions on earth. but it is better than religions with no real truth at all.

  • facts where, i did not see any. what, i saw was all distortions from delusional prejudice. there are few or no rebellions against lies, but truth is always rebelled against.

  • and wrong conclusions, based on hate based opinions. all, arguments involve hate to a greater or lesser degree… all disunity involves a range of hatred. nor does disunity, mean either side is right. there are only three choices, one side is right and the other wrong, the other side is right and the one side is wrong. or both sides are wrong. with the latter, the most common case.

  • then your faith in men, is always fallible. you might as well included, hasatan, baal hamolech, hamavreek, and all their subtle talking beasts of the fields.

  • You are so full of nonsense I hardly know where to begin to correct you.

    Perhaps you could list for me those rights, and of course, for each one you mention, give me a source. Before you do, I should remind you that just about every major Christian denomination differs on what those rights are.

    Umm…how about blasphemy? Is that a right? According to the First Amendment, it is. I have my doubts as to whether you agree with the first amendment–certainly Moore does not.

    Nor, of course, is it any accident that Moore is from the deep south.

  • Altho I agree with the overall thrust of your comments, I would like to quibble on one point.

    You say Moore does not understand religious liberty. I think he understands it very well–and despises it. That’s the most plausible explanation I can come up with for his views.

  • Well, after all, historically, southerners have shown high contempt for the constitution and silly ideas like rights and decent treatment of anyone other than racist white evangelicals.

  • if you, do not want a Government like in HEAVEN of Heavens. then all, you have is corruption from men. and you, shall have more of the physical pestilence, plague, and famine you deserve.

    and pleasing half the people half of the time is not going to result in unity.

  • crap! you do not even know the source of the first ten amendments of the constitution. the idea that came from, the declaration of independence and federal and personal papers. golly gee whiz, then their is no point in discussing this with you.

  • It’s really much simpler than that. Moore: “I’m right. you’re not.” If he is feeling especially loquacious, he might add: “Freedom of religion is for those who are right. I’m right. You’re not.Freedom of religion is for me. You’re as free as everyone else to follow my religion. So everyone is equally free.”

  • I know the type. I’ve been standing up to them for 46 years. However, when you point out their obvious psychology, they are sure to inform you that you can’t read their minds.

    They,re right, but their attitudes are obvious.

  • Do you understand thAt those words come not from the constitution, the law of the land, but from the Declaration of Independence? Do you understand that a reference to the creator is a deliberate step away from the Christian god?

    How ignorant are people today, of our nations and state constitutions.

  • so as bittersweet as it is after 50 years thank you. as the national unity that was before i left, has not existed after my return.

  • Do you not understand that our nation was founded under a Godless Constitution. It contains no mention of god, no mention of Jesus, no mention of Christianity. Repeat: It is a Godless Constitution! And it is the supreme law of the land.

  • the argument was lost, and you mentally hurt yourself over this reacting not responding with hostility and expletives?

  • you only get a glimpse of this in the unalienable bill of rights derived from the declaration of independence. that, and statements and letters from the founding fathers.

    but every state constitution, does mention G-D. with virginia, the only commonwealth to mention jesus christ. so since every state does give credit to G-D, that is more than the 3/4 required to amend the federal constitution.

    even at the time when there were only 13 original colonies. there constitutions were accepted.

  • yes! i am, more experienced and more educated than you. and i am sure your parents, aunts, uncles, and other older people will appreciate your attempt to insult and mentally bully them also. so that, now your also a bigot.

  • No, you have clearly let dementia set in. You sound like someone who cheered students getting killed at Kent State. Am I in the ballpark?

  • i do not cheer anyone, in this world of taught deception. not even false prophets, and false witnesses like you. i, do not enjoy this world of diverse devils and their demon followers. the unholy attributes from the devil, are yours to own.

  • christian??? what, another false prophecy and false witness from you??? i am a Torah deist not a christian. every thing i have said, is in TheTorah. as apparently you, have not clue what is really in TheTorah Scroll.

    i do not adhere to any religion, that denies we are all here in This Story of The Physical Creation again for seven full days. from day one with Noach, to day seven with THEIR Male Child adam and his Sister again.

    if you think your mental denial, has prevented ELOHEEM and/or THEIR Son from giving The Whole Physical Torah again. then you, are deluded by the devils.

  • there you, go again telling more lies. trying to claim, i am something i am not with your delusions.

    nor is there any such word, as jew in The Torah Scroll. you, are so full of lies you can’t help but tell lies.

    at the very best, i could be called a Noachide. but that still, would not be quite correct.

    and being called a disgrace to jews or christians today would actually be a compliment. since i, do not belong to any worldly organized religious cult.

    they have become too spiritually, mentally, and physically dangerous to be associated with.