Voters cast their ballots in the Alabama special election Tuesday to choose a replacement for former Senator Jeff Sessions, who vacated his seat to become Attorney General. Not since the sixties has politics in the state of Alabama been the focus of national attention. Ironically, the most prominent political stories to emerge from The Yellowhammer State since that time have involved one of the two candidates competing for Sessions’ seat; Judge Roy Moore.
The judge has been a prominent figure in state government in Alabama for many years, and his relationship with Alabama’s political class has been a rocky one. His opponent, Democrat Doug Jones, was virtually unknown outside of Alabama until the campaign for Tuesday’s special election began. Were it not for the allegations of sexual misconduct brought against Moore by several women, Jones would probably still be an unknown.
Alabama is one of the reddest states in the country and, at any other time, no-one beyond the state’s borders would have a reason to speculate about the result of such an election. Jones has become a national figure, however, precisely because of the controversy swirling around his Republican opponent.
The critical factors in this special election, for both candidates, is turnout. Moore is counting on Alabama conservatives being able to look past the unproven allegations against him and, at the same time, remember that his opponent represents an agenda far removed from their own values.
For Doug Jones, the key may be black voter turnout. The Democrat spent remarkably little time, on the campaign trail, dwelling upon Moore’s alleged past sexual improprieties. It could not have been lost on him, however, that the accusations leveled at Moore have provided him with an opportunity that no Alabama Democrat has had in decades. Jones is portrayed by his supporters as a fairly conservative Democrat, but he knows that Alabamians do not, for the most part, share his values. “I’m not going to be the senator that everybody in the state can agree with 100 percent of the time,” he admitted Monday, according to a report from CBS News.
As voting got underway, news from the state suggested that turnout will be relatively light. According to a Fox News report, it’s expected to be around 25%. Jones arrived at a polling station in Mountain Brook shortly after 9 a.m. to cast his own vote. Moore voted some three hours later in Gallant, arriving at the polling station on horseback.
President Donald Trump, who did not endorse Moore in the Republican primary for the Senate seat, came late to the party; backing Moore to beat Jones in order to preserve the already razor-thin Republican majority in the Senate. Trump tweeted Tuesday morning:
“The people of Alabama will do the right thing. Doug Jones is Pro-Abortion, weak on Crime, Military and Illegal Immigration, Bad for Gun Owners and Veterans and against the WALL. Jones is a Pelosi/Schumer Puppet. Roy Moore will always vote with us. VOTE ROY MOORE!”
Moore has a tough fight since he is also unpopular with establishment Republicans in Congress. Should Jones win, his seat will be a vulnerable one when his term ends, but, until, then he will reduce the Republican Senate majority to just two.