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Upset brewing in heated Alabama Republican Senate primary as polls conflict

Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore (above) has gained ground on incumbent Luther Strange in the Alabama Republican Senate primary. The primary election is Tuesday. (Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images)

Despite an endorsement from President Donald Trump and his position as the incumbent, Sen. Luther Strange has been unable to hold off surging challenger Roy Moore heading into Tuesday's Alabama Republican Senate primary election.

Strange and Moore are among the eight candidates competing for the Republican nomination for the Senate seat that was vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Strange was appointed to the seat in February by former Gov. Robert Bentley, who resigned in April in the midst of sexual and financial scandals.

In fact, Strange may even be trailing Moore, depending on which poll is considered. A poll recently released by the Trafalgar Group shows Moore leading Strange 37.72 percent to 24.42 percent. However, an Emerson College Polling poll shows the two candidates in a virtual dead heat, with Strange leading 32 percent to 29 percent, meaning this race is too close to call.

Neither Strange, 64, nor Moore, 70, appears to be in a position to secure the 50 percent of votes needed to win the Republican nomination outright. More likely, the primary will be decided in a run-off election Sept. 26.

Rep. Mo Brooks, 63, is third in both polls (15 percent in the ECP, 17.46 percent in the Trafalgar Group) and is vying for a spot in the presumed run-off. Brooks is known as a staunch fiscal conservative who notably opposed the Republican plan to replace Obamacare because it didn't go far enough in dismantling the law, according to CNBC. He eventually supported an amended bill.

Trump endorsed Strange, who was once considered the clear favorite, most recently in an Aug. 14 tweet, saying "Luther Strange of the Great State of Alabama has my endorsement. He is strong on Border & Wall, the military, tax cuts & law enforcement."

Moore, a former state Supreme Court justice, has faced an uphill battle against the more well-funded Strange, who boasts financial support from GOP Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his allies as well as an endorsement by the NRA.

Moore has leaned into that apparent disadvantage by running as an anti-establishment candidate, portraying McConnell as an example of what's wrong in Washington, which appears to have been an effective strategy in a state where Trump is still popular.

Trump has been publicly critical of McConnell multiple times in recent months, although Trump and McConnell agree in their endorsement of Strange.

"I resent people from Washington, raising money in Washington, and sending negative ads to Alabama and trying to control the vote of the people," Moore said, according to Politico. "If the Washington crowd wants somebody, the people of Alabama generally don't."

Moore has campaigned on the platform of a strong military, including the use of military force to protect the Mexican border, defunding Planned Parenthood, and opposition to same-sex marriage and civil unions.

Moore's endorsements include evangelical leader James Dobson, television star and conservative spokesperson Chuck Norris, Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson and former Gov.Fob James and his son, Tim James.

According to, this race is being viewed by some as a referendum on McConnell's influence and the reach of Washington. If Strange loses, it would indicate that the grassroots movement in Alabama is stronger than the Washington establishment.

On the Democratic side of the election, U.S. Attorney Doug Jones is the leading primary candidate, polling at 40 percent in the Emerson College Polling poll. Jones was recently endorsed by former Vice President Joe Biden. The next closest Democrat is Robert Kennedy Jr. at 23 percent. At least 25 percent of polled voters were undecided. No Democrat has held a Senate seat in Alabama since Howell Heflin in 1997.


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