By Cathleen Decker
WASHINGTON — Former state Chief Justice Roy Moore won the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate in Alabama on Tuesday as voters brushed aside pleas from President Donald Trump and millions in ads from establishment Republicans and chose a brash and controversial conservative.
Moore defeated Sen. Luther Strange, who had been appointed to the seat in April by GOP Gov. Robert J. Bentley to replace Jeff Sessions when he became attorney general.
At the time, Bentley was under threat of impeachment because of a sex scandal, and he resigned days after appointing Strange. Throughout the campaign, Strange, who was state attorney general before being appointed to the Senate, had to fight off questions about the ethics of seeking a Senate nomination from a governor his staff was investigating.
But Strange also fought — and Moore appeared to profit from — a sharply anti-Washington sentiment among Tuesday’s voters. Not even Trump’s endorsement, and a series of personal pitches that included venturing to Huntsville for a fiery rally Friday, persuaded voters to pick the more reserved Strange over the perennial firebrand Moore.
—Congratulations to Roy Moore on his Republican Primary win in Alabama. Luther Strange started way back & ran a good race. Roy, WIN in Nov!’ Trump tweeted late Tuesday. He later corrected the month — the general election is scheduled for Dec. 12.
Trump had argued that Strange would have coasted to victory in the December general election against Democrat Doug Jones, and that Moore’s nomination would make the seat competitive for Democrats. But voters went with Moore anyway.
—People like Donald Trump, and people like Roy Moore, and they don’t feel they have to choose between the two,’ said Republican pollster Brent Buchanan, whose Monday poll found Moore with a double-digit lead despite Trump’s endorsement of his opponent.
—They are bold and brash, and people prefer that over polished politicians right now. And they know where those guys stand,’ he said.
Moore proved his boldness in his election eve rally. To counter Strange’s claim that he was soft on the Second Amendment, Moore brandished a revolver onstage, generating a roar from the crowd. On Tuesday, he cantered to the polls on the back of his horse.
Moore has sought multiple offices during decades in Alabama politics, making him well-known among the state’s voters. He also has been a magnet for controversy: His record includes being…