Doug Jones on Wednesday became the first Democrat in 25 years to win a Senate seat from the US state of Alabama after scoring an upset victory over President Donald Trump-backed candidate Roy Moore, whose campaign was dogged by allegations of sexual misconduct toward teenagers.
Moore's defeat marks a major political blow to Trump, who endorsed the Alabama Republican and held a rally on his behalf. Although most national Republicans rushed to distance themselves from Moore in the aftermath of the allegations against him, Trump reaffirmed his support through tweets and public statements.
With all counties reporting, the Alabama Secretary of State reported Jones with 49.92 percent of the vote and Moore with 48.38 percent of the vote. "Thank You Alabama!" Jones, 63, tweeted.
The new Senator would be sworn in next year. This is for the first time in a quarter-century that a Democrat has won a Senate seat in a Republican stronghold of Alabama.
Jones unexpected victory also narrows the Republican majority in the Senate to 51-49. With 99 percent of the votes counted, Moore, who fought allegations that he had molested or pursued relationships with teenage girls in the 1970s when he was in his 30s and an assistant district attorney, refused to concede.
"Democrats pull off an upset in Alabama," The New York Times said as it declared victory for Jones. The daily described as a rare Democratic victory in a staunchly Republican state.
"The race captivated the nation, not only for its debates over party loyalty and morality, but also for its also immense implications for both parties and the Trump presidency," the paper said.
The Washington Post described Jones' victory as a "shocking upset" in a solidly Republican state. According to Time magazine, Jones' victory in Alabama,"was arguably aided by the rocky candidacy" of Moore.
With this victory, Jones a former US attorney, has become the first Democrat elected to the Senate from Alabama since 1992. "Doug Jones will be an outstanding Senator who will represent Alabama well.
He was a great candidate and will bean even better Senator," Senate Minority Leader Senator ChuckSchumer said. Trump congratulated Jones for his "hard-fought" victory. "Congratulations to Doug Jones on a hard-fought victory,"Trump tweeted.
"The write-in votes played a very big factor, but a win is a win," Trump said in his first reaction. "The people of Alabama are great, and the Republicans will have another shot at this seat in a very short period of time. It never ends!" tweeted the US President.
However, Moore refused to concede, saying "It is not over". His close aide indicated that a recount was still possible. Indian-American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal said Jones' win was a massive victory for the country.
"In a sharp rebuke of Donald Trump, Steve Bannon and their anti-American, hate-filled agenda, voters in Alabama blocked a paedophile bigot from serving in the US Senate.
Tonight's victory is a testament to the power of organising and mobilising," Jayapal said. Allegations of sexual misconduct against Moore drew national attention to the special election.
The claims against Moore came amid a wave of allegations of sexual misconduct against prominent figures that have led to the resignation of three politicians.