By Kim Chandler and Jay Reeves
MONTGOMERY, Ala. >> Firebrand jurist Roy Moore won the Alabama Republican primary runoff for U.S. Senate on Tuesday, defeating an appointed incumbent backed by President Donald Trump and allies of Sen. Mitch McConnell.
In an upset likely to rock the GOP establishment, Moore clinched victory over Sen. Luther Strange to take the GOP nomination for the seat previously held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Moore will face Democrat Doug Jones in a Dec. 12 special election.
The crowd at Moore’s election party broke into loud applause as media outlets called the race. Former White House strategist Steve Bannon took the stage to introduce Moore as supporters waving flags cheered Tuesday night.
“We have to return the knowledge of God and the Constitution of the United States to the United States Congress,” Moore told the crowd. He also said he supports the president and his agenda.
Bannon declared Moore’s win a victory for Trump, despite the president’s support for Strange.
After the race, Trump tweeted his congratulations to Moore, noting that “Luther Strange started way back & ran a good race.”
Throughout the campaign, Moore argued the election was an opportunity to send a message to the “elite Washington establishment” that he said was trying to influence the race. The Senate Leadership Fund, a group with ties to McConnell, had spent an estimated $9 million trying to secure the nomination for Strange.
SLF President and CEO Steven Law said Tuesday that Moore won the nomination “fair and square” and the group will now back him.
Law says Moore “has our support, as it is vital that we keep this seat in Republican hands.”
Moore was twice elected chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court and twice removed from those duties.
In 2003, he was removed from office for disobeying a federal judge’s order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state courthouse lobby. Last year, he was permanently suspended after a disciplinary panel ruled he had urged probate judges to defy federal court decisions on gay marriage and deny wedding licenses to same-sex couples.
Strange told his supporters that “we wish (Moore) well going forward.” But he quickly shifted to his own…