Steve Bannon, the former White House strategist, was expected to speak at Republican Roy Moore’s concession speech, now that the Associated Press and national news networks have called the Alabama Senate race for Democrat Doug Jones. However, a Bannon speech never materialized, and neither did a Moore concession. Republicans were starting to point fingers at Bannon, though, for the surprising projected outcome in a historically red state.
Roy Moore and his campaign chairman revealed that Moore was not conceding because state law triggers a recount if there is .05% margin or less. The margin was .07% with 99 percent in, but Moore’s campaign said military ballots are not all counted. The secretary of state told CNN he couldn’t say how many military ballots there were, in addition to provisional ballots. He said he thought the number of military ballots was probably not enough to swing the results but might reduce the margin enough to trigger an automatic recount. Asked by CNN whether a recount could cause any outcome other than Jones winning, the Secretary of State John Merrill said: “I would find that highly unlikely to occur.”
Some are already criticizing Bannon, who supported Moore, for his role in the election. President Donald Trump went all in for Moore, the controversial former state Supreme Court justice, despite endorsing Moore’s primary opponent, the short-term GOP incumbent, Luther Strange. Trump tweeted after Moore’s projected loss and largely blamed it on write-in votes.
Despite the lack of the Moore concession, Jones did give a victory speech. You can watch Jones’ speech here:
Former White House advisor and Breitbart strategist Bannon had tried to fuel voter anger at the “establishment,” turning Moore into a Trump-like figure in a state the president won by a huge margin. According to NBC, though, Jones outspent Moore 6 to 1 on ad buys. Trump himself tried to repeatedly attach Democrat Jones to the policies of Democrats in Congress like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, hardly beloved figures in the deep red South.
There are many Republican Senators who spoke out against Moore. USA Today lists 14 Republican Senators who have been ” clear and unwavering in their opposition to Moore.”
The projected Jones victory ended a contentious campaign in which President Donald Trump endorsed the bombastic Moore, who was accused of sexual misconduct and overtures involving teenage girls. CNN, Fox News, and The Associated Press projected Jones, a former U.S. attorney, as the victor about 2.5 hours after the polls closed.
Jones built a projected victory on the “enthusiasm factor”: Strong turnout in Democratic areas of Alabama including African-American voters, in a state that hadn’t elected a Democrat statewide for a quarter of a century. It’s sure to be written by many as a defeat for Trump, who won Alabama by a large margin, and who went all in for Moore despite once endorsing his primary opponent, Luther Strange. The race was extremely tight, with a .08 percent Jones victory with 99 percent in. The Senate Leadership Fund was already blaming Bannon.
Note: The results table below is powered by the Decision Desk HQ.
Will there be a recount? According to Alabama election law, a recount is automatically triggered if the margin is less than or equal to 0.5 percent. The losing candidate could submit a written waiver of the recount. If the results are close, but not within 0.5 percent, a losing candidate may petition for a recount of any or all precinct returns within 48 hours, according to state law.
“The petitioner must be prepared to pay the cost of the recount and shall give security to cover these costs. The canvassing authority shall set the amount of the security based upon an estimate of actual costs,” state law says.
The Alabama Senate race for Jeff Sessions’ old Senate seat went dramatically to the wire, as the results brought the unusual Roy Moore–Doug Jones contest to a dramatic conclusion. With 92 percent of the votes in, the race was tied. However, Jones then squeaked out a victory.