Former Judge Roy Moore announced Thursday that he will be running for U.S. Senate in Alabama. Moore lost his 2017 Senate bid amid accusations of sexual misconduct with minors.
What’s the background?
When former Attorney General Jeff Sessions resigned from the U.S. Senate in 2017 to join the Trump administration, Moore thought he’d be the likely candidate to replace him. But after decades-old sexual misconduct claims involving women who were under 18 at the time surfaced, the people of Alabama elected Democrat Doug Jones. Before the special election, this was considered a safe Republican seat in the Senate.
Moore filed a lawsuit in an attempt to contest the election but was unable to prevent Jones from being sworn in.
Moore has always maintained his innocence — but some of his defenses raised more questions, including when he said that dating underage girls “would be out of my customary behavior.” He also said that he did not remember dating any teenagers when he was in his 30s or “dating any girl without the permission of her mother.”
Moore also faced criticism for saying that America was last “great” at a point in the past “when families were united — even though we had slavery — they cared for one another.” He said that back then “our country had a direction.” Hannah Ford, Moore’s deputy campaign manager at the time, said that that this quote was being misconstrued by Moore’s opponents who were being “recklessly malicious.”
What happened now?
“Yes, I will run for the United States Senate in 2020,” Moore announced Thursday as he launched his campaign. “Can I win? Yes I can. Not only can I, they know I can.”
Trump has said Moore should not run
President Donald Trump has come out strongly against Moore running for Senate. In May, he tweeted that he had “NOTHING against Roy Moore” but that Moore “cannot win” and “Republicans cannot allow themselves to again lose the Senate seat in the Great State of Alabama.”
During the 2017 primary campaign, Trump endorsed Moore’s Republican opponent Luther Strange. When Moore beat Strange, Trump endorsed Moore shortly before the December special election.
When Moore said that he was “not going up against President Trump” by running, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted, “This is pure fake news. I can assure everyone that by running, Roy Moore is going against my father and he’s doing a disservice to all conservatives across the country in the process.”
The head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.), told the Associated Press last month that the Republican Party did not want Moore to run again: “The people of Alabama rejected Roy Moore not too long ago. I, with my Republican colleagues, always want to be supportive of the most conservative candidate who can actually win a race, and I don’t see that anything has changed in the state of Alabama since the last election.”
So far, it’s not clear if Moore will face strong opposition from candidates in his own party, but that could change. According to Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Sessions has not definitely ruled out running to return to the Senate.