SPONSORED:

Roy Moore says he will run for Senate in Alabama

Roy MooreRoy Stewart MooreAlabama zeroes in on Richard Shelby's future Long-shot Espy campaign sees national boost in weeks before election Ocasio-Cortez slams Tulsi Gabbard for amplifying ballot harvesting video 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 SessionsHarris to resign from Senate seat on Monday Rosenstein: Zero tolerance immigration policy 'never should have been proposed or implemented' Sessions, top DOJ officials knew 'zero tolerance' would separate families, watchdog finds MORE (R) in the Senate in deep-red Alabama after the latter had been named President TrumpDonald TrumpIran convicts American businessman on spying charge: report DC, state capitals see few issues, heavy security amid protest worries Pardon-seekers have paid Trump allies tens of thousands to lobby president: NYT MORE’s attorney general.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 McConnellGraham calls on Schumer to hold vote to dismiss article of impeachment against Trump Rove: Chances of conviction rise if Giuliani represents Trump in Senate impeachment trial Boebert communications director resigns amid Capitol riot: report 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 McSallyCindy McCain on possible GOP censure: 'I think I'm going to make T-shirts' Arizona state GOP moves to censure Cindy McCain, Jeff Flake Trump renominates Judy Shelton in last-ditch bid to reshape Fed 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 ByrneLobbying world Lawmakers grill Pentagon over Trump's Germany drawdown Bottom line 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 ShelbyMcConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time Overnight Defense: Trump impeached for second time | National Guard at Capitol now armed, swelling to 20K troops for inauguration | Alabama chosen for Space Command home Space Command to be located in Alabama 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.