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Sexual misconduct accusations against Roy Moore may boost Democrat in Alabama Senate race

Lisa Mascaro, Tribune Washington Bureau on

Published in News & Features

"He's a Christian, and that's what we need more of," said a retired schoolteacher with her husband, a veteran. "It was a long time ago. Why is it coming to the forefront now?"

Nathan Pennington, a big-rig truck salesman from Jasper, who just finished lunch with his father, said the allegations against Moore have given him pause. He's not sure how he will vote now.

Pennington said he's a Republican, but "a Christian first." He wants to learn more about Jones, a former assistant U.S. attorney in Alabama, before making up his mind.

The Jones campaign was always a long shot. The Democrat carries his own storied background as the prosecutor who won convictions against Ku Klux Klan members decades after the civil rights-era bombing that killed four girls at the 16th Street Baptist Church in downtown Birmingham.

But Democrats have not won a Senate seat here for more than 20 years, and his path to victory hinged not just on turning out the state's Democrats, but peeling away Republicans. Jones will need to attract the GOP's centrists and business leaders, some of whom view Moore's firebrand conservatism, backed by former Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon, as too extreme.

Whether there are enough of those kinds of Republicans, against the tide of Moore's dedicated base of rural and Christian voters, likely will determine the outcome.

"You go back in history, when George Wallace was in, he had a lot more support in the rural areas, and you see that with Roy Moore," Franks said. "Is that enough to carry him now going forward?"

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