Republican voters here put a bitter Senate campaign into overtime Tuesday, forcing Sen. Luther Strange into a runoff with conservative jurist Roy Moore for the right to fill Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s old seat.
Strange was endorsed by President Trump, the National Rifle Association and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s super PAC, which spent $2.5 million on TV ads to boost him in Tuesday’s primary. That helped push him past Rep. Mo Brooks, saving national Republicans from embarrassment in a unique midsummer election marked by low turnout.
Democrats, who have not won a Senate race in Alabama since 1992, nominated former U.S. attorney Doug Jones over a field of fringe candidates.
On the Republican side, Moore, with nearly 40 percent of the vote, was in first place with more than 90 percent of votes counted. Strange — who was appointed in February to temporarily fill the seat — was second with 32 percent, and Brooks was third with 20 percent.
Strange’s second-place showing despite his incumbent status served as a slim victory for Trump and Senate leaders, but with an asterisk. After a tumultuous day when Trump seemed to defend white supremacists who participated in a rally in Charlottesville over the weekend that left one woman dead, Strange now faces the challenge of needing to continue to court Trump’s supporters during a six-week runoff campaign even as the national appetite for aligning with the president has diminished.
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