Sept. 27 (UPI) — President Donald Trump shifted allegiance late Tuesday to the winner of Alabama’s race to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the Senate — Roy Moore.
The president congratulated Moore on his defeat of Luther Strange, who Trump had aggressively endorsed, in a phone call and on Twitter.
“Spoke to Roy Moore of Alabama last night for the first time. Sounds like a really great guy who ran a fantastic race,” Trump tweeted Wednesday. “He will help to [Make America Great Again]!”
“Great to talk with President Trump tonight,” Moore tweeted late Tuesday. “I very much look forward to working with the President to win in December!”
Tuesday’s primary vote sets up Moore to go against Democratic challenger Doug Jones in the bid to fill Alabama’s seat left vacant by Sessions’ appointment to the top Justice Department post. The vote will be held Dec. 12.
Moore received 54 percent of votes in his defeat of Strange, who received 45 percent. Moore was the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court until his removal from office, twice, over disregarding federal mandates on same-sex marriage and public displays of the Ten Commandments on government property.
Trump called to congratulate Moore after the victory and promised he would campaign on Moore’s behalf in the Dec. 12 general election. Although Trump referred to Moore as a “really great guy who ran a fantastic race” in a Twitter message, previous tweeted endorsements for Strange were deleted from the president’s account.
Alabama is a reliably red state and has not had a Democratic senator since 1992. Moore is considered the favorite in the race, AL.com reported — which is good news for Republicans as they try to maintain control of the upper chamber.
Moore’s victory came hours after Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker announced he would retire at the end of his current term, opening another GOP seat in Congress.
Corker’s decision not to seek re-election next year came after it became clear he would face an expensive primary fight against more conservative opponents.
Republicans hold a slim majority in Congress — 54 to 44 with two independents — but some expect Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., will also retire due to health issues.