Roy Moore, the bombastic evangelical Christian who was twice ousted as Alabama’s chief justice, has beaten Sen. Luther Strange in a Republican primary, CNN projected Tuesday.
Moore’s win is sending shockwaves through the GOP establishment — including at the White House, where President Donald Trump had poured his own political capital into helping Strange survive.
The race to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions has tested whether Trump’s endorsement and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s allies’ money can carry Strange into a December matchup against Democratic nominee Doug Jones.
Anti-establishment Republicans have viewed Moore — ousted twice as state Supreme Court chief justice but revered among social conservatives for his anti-LGBT views and his advocacy for Christianity in public life — as the true heir to Trump’s campaign.
“Judge Roy Moore was deplorable before it was cool to be deplorable,” 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin said in Alabama last week.
Steve Bannon, the former Trump White House chief strategist-turned-Moore advocate, will be on hand for his election night party in Montgomery.
Bannon, Palin and conservatives in Alabama see Moore’s candidacy as an outlet for frustration with what they see as failed Republican leadership on Capitol Hill. The election comes the same day a third major GOP push to repeal the Affordable Care Act failed, with Senate Republicans pulling a bill they’d sought to pass this week.
Strange, meanwhile, has been hobbled by his relationships with two people: McConnell, whose super PAC invested more than $10 million in helping him against Moore, and former Gov. Robert Bentley, who appointed Strange to the seat in February.
Bentley resigned amid a sex scandal shortly after appointing Strange, who was Alabama’s attorney general, to the Senate. Moore has repeatedly questioned whether the two cut an improper deal.
But Strange has benefited from the support of Trump, who campaigned for the man who claims he has a “close, personal friendship” with the President in Huntsville on Friday night.
On Tuesday, Trump took to Twitter to urge Alabama voters to “get out and vote for Luther Strange – he has proven to me that he will never let you down!”
Still, Moore was the first-place finisher in the August Republican primary — winning 39% support to Strange’s 33%, with Rep. Mo Brooks winning 20%. That pushed Moore and Strange into Tuesday’s runoff.