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In a stunning rebuke to President Donald Trump, Democrat Doug Jones is projected to be the winner of Alabama's Senate election, upsetting scandal-ridden Republican Roy Moore in one of America's deepest red states, according to NBC News.
Jones' expected victory Tuesday — the first in an Alabama Senate race by a Democrat in 25 years — may bring complications for the GOP's sprawling economic agenda in coming months.
With 99 percent of the precincts reporting, Jones was leading 50-48 percent, or by more than 20,000 votes: 673,236 to 652,300, according to NBC. That number is less than the 22,780 write-in votes, meaning, theoretically, that Moore could have appeared as a write-in candidate on enough ballots to win, NBC said.
Alabama state law calls for a recount if the margin of victory is less than one-half of 1 percentage point. As of Wednesday morning, a mandatory recount was no longer possible due to Jones' lead, according to NBC.
Jones' expected win to fill Attorney General Jeff Sessions' former seat will knock the GOP Senate majority down to 51-49. It creates an even slimmer margin for Republicans as they try to pass a tax overhaul — and potentially other major legislation — with only party votes.
Jones, 63, is expected to prevail in a state that Trump carried easily last year as accusations of teen sexual abuse trailed Moore, a former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice. The last time a Democrat won a Senate seat in the state was in 1992 when Sen. Richard Shelby was elected. Shelby switched to the GOP in 1994 and said on Sunday he wouldn't vote for Moore.
Jones, who had never run for office, was the federal prosecutor in Alabama who won convictions in 2001 and 2002 of two former Ku Klux Klansmen in the 1963 Birmingham church bombing that killed four African-American girls. Jones' victory was helped by a strong African-American turnout.
"Thank you ALABAMA!!" he tweeted on Tuesday night, shortly after news outlets began calling the race.
"At the end of the day, this entire race has been about dignity and respect. This campaign has been about the rule of law," Jones told supporters later Tuesday, to cheers. "This campaign has been about common courtesy and decency and making sure everyone in this state, regardless of which ZIP code you live in, is going to get a fair shake in life."
Speaking to his supporters Tuesday night, Moore signaled that he would fight the result. He said that "when the vote is this close, it's not over."
Jones pushed for a "living wage," equal pay for women, health care as a right and criminal justice reform. As a Democrat hoping to represent Alabama, Jones did not fully portray himself as the "liberal" Trump and Moore had cast him as. Rather, Jones described himself as a "Second Amendment guy" seeking only modest gun regulations, and he has said he could support tax cuts for corporations while opposing the current GOP tax plan overall.
On Tuesday night, he specifically urged Congress to reauthorize the Children's Health Insurance Program, which covered about 9 million children, before he gets to Washington.
Despite Jones' record as a prosecutor, Trump repeatedly claimed that he is "soft on crime."
A Republican Party divided on Moore left Jones with a strong opportunity to win the seat. Polling going into Tuesday's election gave wildly different reads. A Fox News poll released Monday estimated that Jones had a 10-point advantage, while an Emerson College poll showed Moore with a 9-point lead.
One of the strongest rebukes of Moore came from Shelby, who has represented Alabama in Congress for nearly 40 years and said he planned to cast a write-in ballot rather than vote for Moore or Jones.
"I couldn't vote for Roy Moore," Shelby told CNN on Sunday. "The state of Alabama deserves better."
Moore lacked support from Senate GOP leaders, who said he would face an ethics investigation immediately if he got elected. Trump and his former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon explicitly endorsed Moore, while the Republican National Committee put money into his campaign.
Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., head of the Senate Republican campaign arm, said in a statement Tuesday night that "the people of Alabama deemed Roy Moore unfit to serve in the U.S. Senate." Outgoing Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., summed up his feeling in a short tweet.
"Decency wins," Flake wrote on Tuesday night.
Trump, in a tweet Tuesday night, congratulated Jones on a "hard fought victory" and noted that Republicans "will have another shot at this seat in a very short period of time."
Multiple women said Moore pursued sexual relationships with them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s. One of the women said she was 14 when he initiated a sexual relationship. Another accused Moore of sexually assaulting her when she was 16.
The 70-year-old former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court denies the accusations.
But the sexual abuse allegations against Moore clearly became a major part of the race.
"I damn sure believe that I have done my part to ensure that men who hurt little girls should go to jail and not the United States Senate," Jones said in an address earlier this month.
The Alabama Secretary of State's office said it likely will not certify the election results until Dec. 27 at the earliest. Jones likely would not get sworn in until next month.
Jones has signaled that he will oppose the GOP's tax bill, meaning Senate Republicans could only lose one vote and still pass their plan once he is seated. That makes passing a bill before Jones gets sworn in important to Republican senators.
Republicans can still lose two votes and pass their tax reform bill by their Dec. 22 target date. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., already opposes the tax reform plan. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, could also decide to vote against it once she sees a final deal between House and Senate negotiators.