Alabama Senate Race Heads to Dramatic Finish

Still unclear which candidate will win

Alabama Republican Roy Moore rides away on his horse after voting at the Gallant Volunteer Fire Department in Gallant, Ala., on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

GALLANT, Ala. — Capping the wild ride of the Alabama Senate race, Roy Moore made his traditional trek to the polls on horseback.

The Republican candidate was greeted by a horde of reporters and cameras as he rode to the fire station here on his white and brown horse with his wife Kayla, who was also riding her horse.

Moore briefly spoke to reporters after he voted, dismissing questions about a potential Senate Ethics Committee investigation should he win the race.

“We’ll take those problems up when we get to the Senate,” Moore said.

[How Moore Would Change the Senate from Day One]

“I think they ought to go out and vote their conscience,” he said when asked about his message to Alabama voters. “This is a very important election for our country, for our state and for our future.”

Moore, a former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, declined to address the allegations of sexual misconduct lodged against him, or his accusers. Several women have said Moore inappropriately pursued them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s.

“I’m not talking to accusers today, I’m talking to the people of Alabama,” he said.

Moore faces Democrat Doug Jones in a race that, just weeks ago, many considered a safe bet for the GOP. But the sexual misconduct allegations, Moore’s unpopularity with some Republican voters, and Jones’ profile that could boost African-American turnout and appeal to some moderates have upended the race.

Jones also voted Tuesday morning and is expected to visit various polling locations around Birmingham before his campaign party at night. Moore does not have any other public appearances scheduled for Tuesday aside from his election night party.

Polls show Moore with a slight lead heading into Tuesday’s race, though some strategists note it is difficult to gauge who will show up to cast their votes. Both candidates have attempted to energize their voters with closing rallies Monday night.

Moore’s base lies in the rural areas of Alabama, and on Monday night, he traveled to the Wiregrass — an area of the state named for its unique grass that grows in the South — to rally his supporters.

At a refurbished barn in Midland City in southeast Alabama, Moore made a familiar case to his supporters, highlighting his background fighting for religious freedom, and his support for key tenets of President Donald Trump’s agenda.

“It’s difficult to drain the swamp when you’re up to neck in alligators,” Moore told his supporters Monday night. “We’re up to our neck in people that don’t want change in Washington, D.C. They want to keep it the same, keep their power, keep their prestige, and keep their position. And we’ve got to change that.”

Moore’s wife Kayla attempted to dispel characterizations that she said the “fake news” media had put forth about her husband.

“Fake news would say that we don’t care for Jews. I tell you all of this because I’ve seen it all so I just want to set the record straight while they’re here,” she said. “One of our attorneys is a Jew,” she said, drawing laughter from the crowd.

Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, the head of the far-right Breitbart News, Texas GOP Rep. Louie Gohmert, former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, and a handful of pro-Trump congressional hopefuls also attended the Moore rally.

In Birmingham on Monday night, Jones rallied his supporters alongside celebrities including former NBA star and Alabama native Charles Barkley and “Orange Is the New Black” actress Uzo Aduba.

Throughout the campaign, Jones has highlighted his ability to reach across the aisle, and his background fighting for justice. As a U.S. attorney, Jones led the case to convict two Ku Klux Klan members for the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham that killed four girls.

Watch: In Alabama Race, Jones Has Funding, Moore Has Trump, Bannon Support

Jones acknowledged his Democratic views could put him at odds with Alabamians in the deeply Republican state.

“Look, I’m not going to be the senator that everybody in the state can agree with 100 percent of the time,” Jones said, according to The Associated Press. “They’ll know I’m somebody that will sit down with them. I will learn from them.”

Barkley had a stark message for the crowd, urging them to reject Moore and support Jones.

“I love Alabama, but at some point, we’ve got to draw a line in the sand and say, ‘We’re not idiots,’” he said. 

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