Updated 3:54 p.m. | Alabama Republican Roy Moore has long railed against allowing transgender Americans to serve in the military. On Wednesday, the former state Supreme Court chief justice took his statements a step further.
“The transgenders don’t have rights,” he said Wednesday, according to the Montgomery Advertiser. Moore was at a press conference touting endorsements from 13 county sheriffs.
“They’ve never been denominated as having rights by the U.S. Supreme Court. [Democrat Doug Jones] believes in transgender bathrooms and transgenders in the military. I disagree with him 100 percent,” he said.
Moore and Jones will face off on Dec. 12 in the special election for the remaining term of former Sen. Jeff Sessions, who resigned in February to become attorney general.
The former judge’s comments came one day after Danica Roem, a transgender woman, unseated a conservative Republican in a Virginia House of Delegates race. She became the first transgender person elected to a statehouse.
Moore’s campaign was later rocked Thursday by allegations that he had engaged in sexual conduct with underage women when he was in his early 30s. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and a growing chorus of GOP senators called on him to step down, if the allegations were true.
Moore denied the allegations, reported by The Washington Post, calling them “completely false and are a desperate political attack by the National Democrat Party and the Washington Post on this campaign.”
The GOP candidate was twice removed from the Alabama Supreme Court, first for defying a federal order to remove a large monument of the Ten Commandments from the courthouse. He was most recently removed for advising probate judges not to honor the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage.
Jones, a former U.S. attorney, has said his campaign is focusing on “kitchen table issues” such as health care and the economy. It’s also trying to appeal to Republicans in the state who are turned off by Moore’s controversial statements.
Some Democrats, energized by their victories in Virginia and New Jersey on Tuesday, have said the party’s attention should now turn to electing Jones.
But as a Democrat, Jones faces an uphill battle winning in deep-red Alabama. President Donald Trump won the state by 28 points last year. And the last Democrat to win a Senate race in Alabama, Richard C. Shelby, did so in 1992. Two years later, he switched to the GOP.
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It is not clear whether national Democrats will devote more resources to the Yellowhammer State now that most local and statewide 2017 elections are over.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez did not directly answer when asked twice Wednesday if the DNC would send more resources, such as funding and organizing staff, to Alabama. He instead pointed to investments in state parties begun last month, including in Alabama, to boost grass-roots organizing efforts.
“It’s an uphill battle. [Jones is] undeniably the underdog and that’s the reality of the situation,” Perez said on a call with reporters. “Underdogs can win. And I know Doug is fighting very hard.”