Alabama Senate Race: Roy Moore and Doug Jones Vote as Contest Ends With More Controversy


• Polls fully close in the state at 8 p.m. Eastern Time. Check back for live results then.

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Some of her best friends are black and Jewish.

When Mr. Moore’s campaign held its final rally in Midland City late Monday, it was Kayla Moore, the candidate’s wife, who grabbed the headlines with her attempt to inoculate her husband from charges of bigotry that have dogged him. But her comments likely raised more eyebrows than praises:

Fake news would also have you think that my husband doesn’t support the black community. Yet my husband appointed the very first black marshal to the Alabama Supreme Court, Mr. Willie James. When he first took office as chief justice many years ago, he brought with him three people from Etowah County; two were black, and one of them is here tonight. We have many friends that are black, and we also fellowship with them in church and in our home.

Fake news would tell you that we don’t care for Jews. I tell you all this because I’ve seen it all, so I just want to set the record straight while they’re here. One of our attorneys is a Jew. We have very close friends that are Jewish and rabbis, and we also fellowship with them.

Read more on the story here, and read how the sexual misconduct scandal unfolded.

Video

Roy Moore’s Wife: ‘One of Our Attorneys Is a Jew’

Kayla Moore defended her husband on Monday by saying “we have very close friends” who are Jewish at a rally in Midland City, Ala.


By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS.


Photo by Audra Melton for The New York Times.

Watch in Times Video »

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Trump tweets, ‘VOTE ROY MOORE!’

Video

How Trump Became a Vocal Cheerleader for Roy Moore

At first, President Trump remained largely silent. But as the election neared, he supported Roy S. Moore for the Alabama Senate seat.


By CHRIS CIRILLO on Publish Date December 11, 2017.


Photo by Audra Melton for The New York Times.

Watch in Times Video »

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Moore rides Sassy to the polls, cameras in tow.

Mr. Moore emerged from a stand of woods Tuesday astride Sassy, his Tennessee walking horse, about 40 minutes behind schedule. He was wearing a black hat and a grin, and keen to vote.

It was a political moment as bizarre as it was cinematic, one that registered somewhere between John Ford and Fellini: Roughly 50 journalists and camera operators from around the world had come to record the event, which had been scheduled for roughly 10 a.m., at the Gallatin Volunteer Fire Department headquarters, a modest brick building set along a two-lane road winding through the gently rolling, and otherwise serene, Alabama countryside.

The journalists chatted in the cold as they waited for the candidate, in voices more often heard on the banks the Thames or the Akerselva than in the foothills north central Alabama. They had expected Mr. Moore to come riding along the road, but when he and Kayla instead trotted out of a stand of trees at around 10:40 a.m., there was an inelegant scramble for the better angle, a human cartoon cloud of shoving and stumbling and clattering tripods.

Mr. Moore is a populist, and though not much of a public speaker — his speeches come across less as fiery stemwinders than after-dinner lectures from a stern, know-it-all grandpa — he is blessed with a talent for showmanship, having previously toured the country with a massive granite statue of the Ten Commandments. He tied Sassy to a fence and grinned as he made his way up to the polling place, swarmed by the reporters and their questions.

He was asked what he would say to his accusers.

“I’d say, tell the truth,” he replied.

Eventually Mr. Moore disappeared into the little building, then emerged with an “I Voted” sticker, standing before reporters and taking questions in a more organized way.

He was asked again what his message would be for Senator McConnell if he were to win.

“Well, I’m coming to the Senate, and we’ll work out our problems there,” he said.

He was asked about Republican Senator Cory Gardner’s statement that the Senate should expel him if he is elected. He was asked if he was ready to face a Senate ethics panel.

“We’ll take those issues up when we get to the Senate,” Mr. Moore replied, calmly.

The scrum followed him back to fence, where he and Ms. Moore untied Sassy and Ms. Moore’s horse, Laredo. The animals seemed spooked by the attention and the noise, and there were calls for the reporters to back off, lest they get kicked.

Mr. Moore mounted Sassy, and told a few reporters a little too close to him that they might get run over if they got in his way.

Then he and Kayla rode back off into the woods.

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Jones, ‘exuberant,’ casts his ballot.

Wearing a broad smile and pronouncing himself “exuberant,” Mr. Jones cast a ballot for himself on Tuesday morning and leveled a final round of criticism at his Republican opponent.

Accompanied by his wife, Louise, and his sons, Mr. Jones strolled into the Brookwood Baptist Church in Mountain Brook, an upscale Birmingham suburb, picking up his ballot from a line of tables backed by a cross and a Christmas tree. Alluding to the state’s restrictive voter-identification law, he joked to his wife: “Louise, got your ID?”

Mr. Jones predicted black turnout would be strong and laced into Mr. Moore for comments he has made criticizing the constitutional amendments, enacted after the Civil War, that abolished slavery and gave broader rights to African-Americans.

“I think they’ve seen, within Doug Jones, a partner for a long time,” Mr. Jones said of the black community. “And they sure don’t see a partner in Roy Moore.”

Evan Raymond, an accountant who said he supports candidates in both parties, cast a ballot for Mr. Jones.

“I don’t know how anybody can vote for Roy Moore, but everybody has their own beliefs,” Mr. Raymond said. He added that he would not have voted for Mr. Moore, even absent the sex-abuse allegations, and referenced Mr. Moore’s repeated ejections from judicial office: “You’re in a position to uphold the law, you can’t make your own.”

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One woman says, ‘I even debated about going to vote this morning.’

It was 9 a.m. Tuesday, and Brandy Weston, 34, and her husband, Greg Weston, 45, had already gotten their voting out of the way, and were busy loading boxes of fruit onto the back of their pickup outside of their produce stand in Ashville, a little town a few miles from Mr. Moore’s polling place. Both voted for Mr. Moore.

Ms. Weston said she generally disagreed with Mr. Jones’s politics, and said she was disappointed that Mr. Jones used the allegations to attack Mr. Moore. “I don’t know,” she said. “Honestly, I even debated about going to vote this morning.”

But she did, and she made her choice on the theory that if the allegations were somehow proved, Alabama’s Republican governor could put another, less controversial Republican in the Senate seat for the time being.

“I’m tired of hearing about it,” Ms. Weston said. “Whatever it’s going to be, it’s going to be, you know?”

But one woman after another said the allegations against Mr. Moore bothered them at a busy polling station in Ozark, in southeast Alabama. Leslie McLeod, 27, said she cast her ballot for “Democrat Doug,” a reference to Mr. Jones.

“The other one is a rapist, and he said all the times were good was when there was slavery,” she said, recalling Mr. Moore’s remarks that the nation was last great in the era of slavery.

Mr. Moore insists that he did not molest teenage girls or make romantic advances toward them when he was an adult. He has not been charged with any crimes related to the misconduct allegations.

Tanya Embry, 36, also cited deep concerns about Mr. Moore’s behavior.

“I know this is typically a Republican state, but I can’t get behind somebody who is being accused of things like what he’s being accused of,” she said.

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Photo

Residents of the historic Norwood neighborhood in Birmingham, Ala., turned out to vote in the early morning hours on Tuesday.

Credit
Bob Miller for The New York Times

Jones will need a strong turnout by black voters and city residents.

African-American turnout typically falls in nonpresidential election years, and voting rights advocates say that Alabama’s voter ID law and partisan administration of voting rules have the potential to suppress the black vote. But if black Alabamians make up more than 25 percent of voters on Tuesday, Mr. Jones will have a strong chance to score an upset.

Many of them live in cities, like Birmingham and Montgomery. In addition, several largely poor counties that are predominantly African-American, like Dallas, Lowndes, Marengo and Perry, stretch across the middle of the state.

It is hard to overstate the disdain many voters in Alabama’s cities and suburbs harbor toward Mr. Moore. Yet it is not enough for Mr. Jones to just win over those college-educated voters who most loathe Mr. Moore. The Democrat also has to persuade Republicans who are more ambivalent about the race.

If Mr. Jones is to have a chance at winning, he must run up the margin against Mr. Moore in Jefferson County, which includes Birmingham and is the state’s most populous, and convincingly win the state’s next-largest counties, Mobile and Madison, which are also filled with educated and affluent voters.

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Rural whites are key for Moore.

If energizing African-Americans is key for Mr. Jones, it is equally crucial for Mr. Moore to get a strong turnout from his longtime base of rural whites. If these voters decide to stay home because of the sexual misconduct accusations — these conservatives are highly unlikely to cross party lines — it would greatly complicate the Republican’s electoral math.

These small-population counties, stretching across the state’s northern tier and just above the Gulf Coast, are likely to report early. Mr. Moore’s margins in them will go a long way toward indicating whether he can withstand Mr. Jones’s expected success, reported later in the night, in Alabama’s cities.

If Mr. Moore is hitting the sort of marks he reached in his Republican runoff victory in September, over 60 percent in a number of rural counties, he will most likely claim victory.

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If write-in candidates do well, it might not take 50 percent to claim victory.

It is quite difficult for an Alabama Democrat to capture over 50 percent of the vote. But Mr. Jones may not have to capture a majority to win Tuesday. Senator Richard C. Shelby, a Republican and the state’s longest-serving lawmaker, used a national television interview Sunday to remind Alabamians that he had written in the name of another Republican rather than supporting Mr. Moore. His example could spur others in the party to do the same.

And there are two ready options. Lee Busby, a Republican and a retired Marine colonel from Tuscaloosa, has announced a write-in bid. And a number of votes will almost certainly go to someone widely considered the most important man in the state, the University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban.

The more Republicans or independents who write in the name of a third candidate, the lower the threshold Mr. Jones needs to reach. Depending on the number of write-ins, he could potentially win even if he only captures 48 percent of the vote.

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