AL Senate Race in Voters' Hands 12/12 06:29
Depending on who is making the case, Alabama's special Senate election
Tuesday is about either continuing the "Trump miracle" in Washington or
allowing "decency" to prevail back home.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) -- Depending on who is making the case, Alabama's
special Senate election Tuesday is about either continuing the "Trump miracle"
in Washington or allowing "decency" to prevail back home.
At the center is Roy Moore --- "Judge Moore," to his supporters. The
70-year-old Republican was twice ousted as state Supreme Court chief justice
after flouting federal law, and now he's attempting a political resurrection
amid accusations of sexual misconduct with teenage girls when he was in his 30s.
In Moore's path is Democrat Doug Jones, 63, a former U.S. attorney 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 Attorney General Jeff
Sessions. Republicans hold a narrow 52-48 Senate majority. A routine election
in Republican-dominated Alabama wouldn't be expected to alter that balance,
because Alabamians haven't sent a Democrat to the upper chamber of Congress
since 1992. President Donald Trump notched a 28-point win here in 2016 and
remains popular in the state.
But Moore's baggage leaves the outcome enough in doubt that both Trump and
his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, have weighed in with last-minute
robocalls trying to sway voters.
The intensity also has spawned a steady stream of fake news stories that
fill social media feeds of interested people 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 have 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 shouldn't hold elected office. He didn't.
In his final pitch before polls open, 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 all the allegations,
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 and enough of a
curiosity that Chinese leader Xi Jinping paused a presidential meeting in
Beijing recently to ask Trump through an interpreter, "Who is Roy Moore?"
Alabama's senior senator, Richard Shelby, confirmed publicly that he wrote
in a "distinguished Alabama Republican" rather than vote for Moore.
Many Republicans, however, see an opportunity to defend the state's
conservative, evangelical bent in the face of unfair 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 is a "national election" that
will determine whether the "Trump miracle" continues. Moore says he is aligned
with the president and he makes similar arguments to Trump, blasting "the
elite" in the "swamp" of Washington, D.C.
For Jones to win, he must build an atypical coalition, maximizing turnout
among African-American voters and white liberals who often don't combine for
more than 40 percent of the electorate, while coaxing votes from enough white
Republicans who can't pull the lever for Moore.
One of Jones' celebrity backers framed the choice as being much less
"I love Alabama," said Leeds native and former NBA basketball star Charles
Barkley, "but at some point we've got to draw a line in the sand and say,
'We're not a bunch of damn idiots.'"
Polls open at 7 a.m. CST.