Luther Strange, Roy Moore face off in Alabama GOP runoff for Jeff Sessions’ Senate seat

Republican voters in Alabama must choose today between establishment-aligned incumbent Luther Strange and populist firebrand Roy Moore to be their nominee to fill Jeff Sessions‘ former Senate seat.

The special election has gained national prominence because of what’s at stake in this election: the political sway of Donald Trump’s administration versus the folks who helped him win the White House.

Strange has the backing of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and the Senate Leadership Fund has pumped $7 million into the race. In the past week Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have traveled to Alabama to stump with Strange.

Moore has been endorsed by several Trump supporters and former White House officials, including former White House strategist Steve Bannon, former White House adviser Sebastian Gorka and 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

At a Moore campaign rally last night, Bannon paraphrased William Shakespeare’s funeral oration by Mark Antony for Julius Caesar, saying, “We did not come here to defy Donald Trump. We came here to praise and honor him.”

Sessions held the Senate seat for 20 years before he joined the Trump administration as attorney general.

In February, Alabama’s then-Gov. Robert Bentley appointed Strange, the state’s attorney general at the time, to fill the Senate seat until the next general election, in 2018. After Bentley’s resignation because of a political scandal, then–Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey became governor and in April called for a special election.

Strange has been dogged by accusations that he accepted a quid pro quo arrangement, because he asked state lawmakers in November to suspend their impeachment investigation into Bentley so that his office could conduct “related work.”

Known as “Big Luther” — at 6 foot 9, he is the tallest senator in U.S. history — he has also faced attacks for his work as a lobbyist for Sonat Offshore, an influential gas utility, and as a corporate lawyer in Birmingham.

Evan Vucci/AP
President Donald Trump hugs U.S. Senate candidate Luther Strange during a campaign rally, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Huntsville, Ala.

Before Moore ran for Senate, he was a controversial figure, displaying a wooden carving of the Ten Commandments in his courtroom in the 1990s when he served as a circuit court judge. After he was elected Alabama’s chief justice, Moore refused to remove a marble monument of the Ten Commandments that he installed outside the state Supreme Court in…

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