CLOSE

Looking ahead to Tuesday’s election between Alabama Sen. Luther Strange and former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore. The winner will face Democrat Doug Jones, a former U.S. attorney, in the Dec. 12 general election.
Brian Lyman / Advertiser

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore Tuesday won the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate Tuesday night, overcoming an incumbent with the strong backing of President Trump and a major fundraising advantage.

Republicans had tried to turn the runoff for the GOP Senate nomination into a referendum on Donald Trump, but GOP voters Tuesday said Trump — and his endorsement of Sen. Luther Strange — were small factors in their choices.

Shortly after 9:30 p.m. ET, the Associated Press called the race for Moore. With 86% of the vote counted Tuesday night, Moore led Strange 56% to 44%.

Moore’s victory highlighted the strength of his base of voters in the Alabama Republican Party; the lingering questions about Strange’s appointment by former Gov. Robert Bentley and the limits of Trump’s ability to influence elections.

“I make my own decisions,” said Jim Barber, a retired construction engineer who lives in Auburn and who voted for Moore. “I was and still am a strong supporter of Donald Trump, but I differ with him on this thing.”

Even supporters of Strange — who tried to run an entire campaign on his support for Trump — said the president’s backing was at best secondary. Gloria Lynn, a retired teacher who lives in Auburn, liked the Trump endorsement and said she believed Strange was the “best man for the job.” But Lynn said her vote for Strange was “more or less because I was against Moore.”

More: Roy Moore vs. Luther Strange: Five questions on the Alabama Senate primary runoff

Previously: Trump praises Sen. Luther Strange in Alabama, silent on Sen. John McCain’s latest vow

Previously: White House, Republicans stepping up involvement in Alabama Senate primary runoff

“He put the Ten Commandments (in the Alabama Supreme Court building) and someone told him not to do it and he did it anyway,” she said. “He’s against gay marriage, and you know, that’s something that’s…