Roy Moore says he will run for Senate in Alabama

Roy MooreRoy Stewart MooreThe 5 most vulnerable senators in 2020 The biggest political upsets of the decade GOP predicts bipartisan acquittal at Trump impeachment trial MORE, the controversial former Alabama Supreme Court justice who lost his 2017 Senate bid, announced on Thursday that he will seek to challenge Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) for his seat in 2020.

“I will run for the U.S. Senate in 2020,” Moore told supporters in Montgomery, Ala. “Can I win? Yes, I can win.”

Moore’s candidacy comes with a great deal of political baggage. He was once favored to win the 2017 special election to replace Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsICE subpoenas Denver law enforcement: report Bottom Line DOJ inquiry tied to Clinton, touted by Trump winds down with no tangible results: report MORE (R) in the Senate in deep-red Alabama after the latter had been named President TrumpDonald John TrumpLev Parnas implicates Rick Perry, says Giuliani had him pressure Ukraine to announce Biden probe Saudi Arabia paid 0 million for cost of US troops in area Parnas claims ex-Trump attorney visited him in jail, asked him to sacrifice himself for president MORE’s attorney general.

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But Moore’s electoral prospects tanked amid allegations that he had pursued sexual and romantic relationships with teenage girls decades ago when he was in his 30s. Moore has denied the allegations.

Jones ultimately defeated Moore in that election by less than 2 points, becoming the first Democrat elected to represent Alabama in the Senate in 25 years.

Republicans in Washington worry that Moore’s candidacy in the race would be a boon to Jones. Even President Trump, who backed Moore’s 2017 Senate bid, signaled that he did not think the former Alabama Supreme Court justice should mount a campaign for Jones’s 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,” Trump wrote on Twitter last month. “I have NOTHING against Roy Moore, and unlike many other Republican leaders, wanted him to win. But he didn’t, and probably won’t.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPoll shows Collins displaces McConnell as most unpopular senator Hill.TV's Saagar Enjeti on impeachment: 'CNN can see through this nonsense' Trump says impeachment trial should move 'very quickly' MORE (R-Ky.) vowed that he and his allies would strongly oppose the former judge's nomination.

"We'll be opposing Roy Moore vigorously," McConnell told reporters at the Capitol.

Other Republican Senators also voiced their opposition.

“Give me a break. This place has enough creepy old men,” Sen. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyWolf Blitzer: GOP senator should apologize for calling CNN reporter 'liberal hack' Martha McSally fundraises off 'liberal hack' remark to CNN reporter GOP senator calls CNN reporter a 'liberal hack' when asked about Parnas materials MORE (R-Ariz.) told Politico in response to Moore’s announcement. 

Moore spoke defiantly in his remarks on Thursday, acknowledging that many Republicans in Washington do not want him to become the nominee and predicting that Republican groups would try to “smear” him on the campaign trail.

“Why is there such a fear, such an anger to somebody running?” Moore said. “The mere mention of my name causes people to get up and arms in D.C.”

Moore isn’t guaranteed a rematch with Jones in 2020. Former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville, Rep. Bradley ByrneBradley Roberts ByrneGOP lawmaker offers resolution to censure Pelosi for holding articles of impeachment GOP rep releases campaign ad ripping Kaepernick, 'The Squad' GOP rep rails against Democrats for rejecting Republican impeachment amendment MORE (R-Ala.) and state Rep. Arnold Mooney have already entered the race for the Republican nomination. And Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill is expected to announce a Senate bid next week.

There are also questions about whether Sessions could seek to retake the Senate seat he vacated in 2017. Sen. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyAppropriators fume over reports of Trump plan to reprogram .2 billion for wall The Hill's Morning Report — Impeachment tug-of-war expected to end soon McConnell tells GOP senators to expect impeachment trial next week MORE (R-Ala.) said Wednesday that Sessions has not yet ruled out a return to the Senate.

“He hasn’t said to me yes or no,” Shelby said. “But he’s a good friend.”

Updated 6:05 p.m.