Roy Moore says he will run for Senate in Alabama

Roy MooreRoy Stewart MooreSessions hits back at Trump days ahead of Alabama Senate runoff Judge allows Roy Moore lawsuit over Sacha Baron Cohen prank to proceed Senate outlook slides for GOP 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 SessionsThe 'pitcher of warm spit' — Veepstakes and the fate of Mike Pence FBI officials hid copies of Russia probe documents fearing Trump interference: book Tuberville breaks DC self-quarantine policy to campaign MORE (R) in the Senate in deep-red Alabama after the latter had been named President TrumpDonald John TrumpTeachers union launches 0K ad buy calling for education funding in relief bill FDA head pledges 'we will not cut corners' on coronavirus vaccine Let our values drive COVID-19 liability protection 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 McConnellTeachers union launches 0K ad buy calling for education funding in relief bill No signs of breakthrough for stalemated coronavirus talks State aid emerges as major hurdle to reviving COVID-19 talks 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 McSallyCoronavirus deal key to Republicans protecting Senate majority From a Republican donor to Senate GOP: Remove marriage penalty or risk alienating voters Hillicon Valley: Facebook bans ads from pro-Trump PAC | Uber reports big drop in revenue | US offers M reward for election interference info 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 ByrneBottom line Jerry Carl wins GOP Alabama runoff to replace Rep. Bradley Byrne Jeff Sessions loses comeback bid in Alabama runoff 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 ShelbyWary GOP eyes Meadows shift from brick-thrower to dealmaker On The Money: Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire | Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks | Tax preparers warn unemployment recipients could owe IRS Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire 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.