Roy Moore says he will run for Senate in Alabama

Roy MooreRoy Stewart MooreThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump retreats on census citizenship question Alabama senator says Trump opposed to Sessions Senate bid The Hill's Morning Report - 2020 jitters hit both parties in the Senate 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 SessionsPress: Acosta, latest to walk the plank The Hill's Morning Report — Trump retreats on census citizenship question Alabama senator says Trump opposed to Sessions Senate bid MORE (R) in the Senate in deep-red Alabama after the latter had been named President TrumpDonald John TrumpEsper sidesteps question on whether he aligns more with Mattis or Trump Warren embraces Thiel label: 'Good' As tensions escalate, US must intensify pressure on Iran and the IAEA 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 McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - House to vote to condemn Trump tweet GOP put on the back foot by Trump's race storm Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA —Biden unveils health care plan | Proposal pitches subsidies, public option | Biden vows if you like your health insurance, 'you can keep it' | Sanders protests planned Philadelphia hospital closure 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 McSallyFive things to watch for at Defense nominee's confirmation hearing Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand Democratic challenger to McConnell raises .5 million on first day of campaign 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 ByrneThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump retreats on census citizenship question Alabama senator says Trump opposed to Sessions Senate bid The Hill's Campaign Report: Debate puts Biden on the defensive 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 ShelbyGOP struggles to find backup plan for avoiding debt default GOP balks at White House push for standalone vote on debt ceiling Lawmakers concede they might have to pass a dreaded 'CR' 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.