Backed candidate for US Senate heads to Alabama run-off

U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore holds a press conference in Montgomery Ala. In the Alabama race for Attorney General Jeff Sessions former Senate seat the Republican slugfest primary is about love of

On Tuesday, Republicans and Democrats in Alabama cast their votes in a primary election to see who will replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the U.S. Senate.

Tuesday's special election was called to find a replacement for U.S. Sen.

Former Alabama Chief Justice and Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore rode a horse to the polls as he voted in the state's special Senate primary on Tuesday.

U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-5th, was in third place with 23,988 votes, or 18.78 percent. Ten people filled out the GOP ballot, while the Democratic ballot held eight candidates.

Out of the 16 candidates running for the Senate seat left vacant by Attorney General Jeff Sessions after his promotion, three have received attention for their staunch support for Trump's right-wing administration. The oddly-timed special election may depress voter turnout, with a general election not coming until December 12.

"He got the Trump bump", said Vince Gawronski, professor of political science at Birmingham-Southern College. Still, with low voter turnout, a spokesperson for Strange's campaign said a runoff would be considered a victory. Strange, who was then attorney general, has been accused of holding off an investigation into the governor in exchange for the Senate seat. At the time, Strange's office was investigating Bentley for campaign finance violations and alleged public corruption.

Strange, 64, has denied that he tread softly on Bentley in order to land the seat. Bentley later resigned from office after pleading guilty to two misdemeanor charges. Brooks said he carried his 5th Congressional District with 41 percent of the vote, followed by 29 percent for Moore and 28 percent for odd.

While Trump remains popular in Alabama, Strange might be hampered by the endorsement of an unpopular establishment Republican - Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

"The President's endorsement says it all", unusual told CNN on Monday after an event at Salem's Diner in Birmingham. Political pundits are viewing the race as a test of McConnell's clout.

The Senate Leadership Fund, which has ties to McConnell, has saturated state airwaves with ads on behalf of unusual, with commercials aimed at keeping down support for both Moore and Brooks.

Strange's survival in Tuesday's vote stanches the bleeding for McConnell during a trying period for his leadership.

To date, McConnell's only major accomplishment since the November election is shepherding the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch, a conservative federal judge, to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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On the Republican side, Sen.

Strange's struggles have already raised concerns among sitting GOP members of Congress, even if he ultimately survives. He has said that marriage equality will "literally cause the destruction of our country or lead to the destruction of our country over the long run"; that transgender people have a mental disorder; and that actions against opponents of marriage equality are similar to the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany.

Odd had emphasized his Trump endorsement - delivered first via Twitter and then in recorded phone calls to voters - in the closing days of the race but had acknowledged all along that a runoff was likely because of the crowded GOP field in a low-turnout special election.

Sen. John Cornyn has not weighed in on the Alabama primary.

Given that Trump has weighed in for odd, the race is a test of the President's influence in a state where his approval rating is still high and Trump is still broadly supported by Republicans.

"I want everyone to know that although there were nine candidates who were competing for the top two slots, I very, very much appreciate the confidence you showed in me in the face of tough competition", Brooks said. He also finished second to Moore in Morgan County. They're optimistic that voters will see the attacks linking Brooks to Pelosi as disingenuous, and they might have point.

Unusual is the favorite of the GOP establishment and Alabama's business community - whose support may hurt more than help in this race.

Moore was effectively ousted as Alabama's chief justice in 2016 for defying the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling legalizing gay marriage.

Brooks took it a step further in late July, dubbing McConnell "head of the swamp" in Washington and calling for his expulsion from the Republican Senate conference.

But, according to Business Insider, the support from McConnell, who is "an unpopular establishment Republican" might hinder his chances. Conservatives, they said, would continue to back Trump over his critics.

"If it's a Roy Moore and Mo Brooks runoff, there will be hell to pay in Washington, D.C.", said Brooks at one rally, as the DITCH MITCH banner waved from the audience.

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