(Reuters) – Alabama voters elected conservative firebrand Roy Moore as the Republican nominee to fill a U.S. Senate seat on Tuesday, dealing a blow to President Donald Trump and other party leaders who had argued that rival Luther Strange was a better bet to advance their priorities in Washington.
Strange said he had called Moore to concede the race. “We wish him the best as he goes forward,” he told supporters.
Moore, 70, is best known for losing his position as the state’s top judge twice, once for refusing a court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the courthouse and a second time for defying the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage.
He will be favored in the December election against Democratic nominee Doug Jones to fill the seat that was held by Jeff Sessions until he was tapped in February to serve as U.S. Attorney General.
A fiery arch-conservative who rode to the voting booth on horseback and brandished a handgun at a rally, Moore drew support from a number of anti-establishment figures on the right, including Trump’s former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, and his secretary of housing and urban development, Ben Carson.
Strange, 64, has earned a reputation as a reliable Republican vote since he was appointed to the seat in February after Sessions became attorney general. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have appeared with him at rallies and a political group affiliated with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has spent close to $9 million on his behalf.
Reporting by Andy Sullivan; editing by Grant McCool