The 2017 U.S. Senate special election in Alabama was probably the highest profile special election of the President Trump era. The seat was left vacant when Jeff Sessions, who had held the seat since the 1980s, was appointed President Trump’s first attorney general. Luther Strange was appointed to the seat in early 2017.
Strange, however, lost the Republican primary to Roy Moore, a former judge and long a controversial figure in Alabama politics. President Trump had backed Strange in the primary, but once Moore was the Republican nominee, Trump vocally supported Moore – even after the candidate was accused by multiple women of having made inappropriate advances toward them when they were teenagers.
Moore denied all of the charges and refused to drop out of the race, and he was defeated by Democratic candidate Doug Jones in a rare victory for a Democrat in one of the nation’s most Republican states. Moore, for his part, refused to concede defeat.
The 2017 election was to complete Sessions’ term, and Jones is on the ballot again in 2020, with Moore making noises about running again. And despite his backing of Moore in the 2017 general election, Trump has now made clear that he wants another candidate for the Alabama Senate seat.
“Republicans cannot allow themselves to again lose the Senate seat in the Great State of Alabama. This time it will be for Six Years, not just Two,” the president tweeted Wednesday. “I have NOTHING against Roy Moore, and unlike many other Republican leaders, wanted him to win. But he didn’t, and probably won’t…”
Trump went on to say, in a second tweet, that if the GOP loses the Alabama Senate seat, it would jeopardize “gains that we have made during my Presidency.”
The president’s son, Donald Trump, Jr., had also sparred with Moore on Twitter earlier this week.
On Trump’s tweet, many on social media seized on the “nothing against Roy Moore” line.
“Translation: ‘I have nothing against Roy Moore, who was accused of sexual misconduct with young girls. Because I have my own history of predations with women and it just makes me yawn,'” journalist and Trump biographer Tim O’Brien tweeted.
Four candidates have declared for the race on the Republican side, including Rep. Bradley Byrne, state lawmaker Arnold Mooney, and former football coach Tommy Tuberville. Moore is also expected to run. Rep. Matt Gaetz was rumored to be running, despite currently representing Florida in Congress, and there were also rumors about a Sessions comeback. However, it doesn’t appear either is running.