Roy Moore says he will run for Senate in Alabama

Roy MooreRoy Stewart MooreFormer AG Sessions enters Alabama Senate race Campaign ad casts Sessions as a 'traitor' ahead of expected Senate run Doug Jones on potential challenge from Sessions: Alabama GOP primary will be 'really divisive' 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 SessionsWhite House backs Stephen Miller amid white nationalist allegations The Hill's Campaign Report: Late bids surprise 2020 Democratic field Sessions vows to 'work for' Trump endorsement MORE (R) in the Senate in deep-red Alabama after the latter had been named President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy Official testifies that Bolton had 'one-on-one meeting' with Trump over Ukraine aid Louisiana governor wins re-election 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 McConnellGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy On The Money: Trump asks Supreme Court to block Dem subpoena for financial records | Kudlow 'very optimistic' for new NAFTA deal | House passes Ex-Im Bank bill opposed by Trump, McConnell Top House Democrats ask for review of DHS appointments 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 McSallyThis week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry Progressive veterans group launches campaign labeling Trump as a 'national security threat' Advocates step up efforts for horse racing reform bill after more deaths 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 ByrneSessions vows to 'work for' Trump endorsement Trump attends football game with Jeff Sessions' Alabama Senate race opponent Bradley Byrne The Hill's Campaign Report: Bloomberg looks to upend Democratic race 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 ShelbyOn The Money: Trump appeals to Supreme Court to keep tax returns from NY prosecutors | Pelosi says deal on new NAFTA 'imminent' | Mnuchin downplays shutdown threat | Trump hits Fed after Walmart boasts strong earnings Overnight Health Care: Cigarette smoking rates at new low | Spread of vaping illness slowing | Dems in Congress push to block Trump abortion rule Lawmakers aim for agreement on top-line spending by 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.