Doug Jones on Tuesday became the first Democrat in a generation to win a Senate seat in Alabama, beating Republican Roy Moore amid a firestorm of allegations that the GOP candidate had sexually abused teens.
Moore, however, refused to concede Tuesday night.
«When the vote is this close … it’s not over,» Moore told supporters after Jones declared victory.
The results are nothing short of an embarrassment for President Donald Trump and a disaster for Republicans in Washington as the reliably red state of Alabama elected its first Democratic senator since the early 1990s.
«I think I have been waiting all my life and now I don’t know what the hell to say,» Jones said Tuesday night.
«I am truly overwhelmed,» he added. «We have shown, not just around the state of Alabama, but we have shown the country the way that we can be unified.»
«This entire race has been about dignity and respect. This campaign — this campaign has been about the rule of law,» he said. «This campaign has been about common courtesy and decency and making sure everyone in this state, regardless of which ZIP code you live in, is going to get a fair shake in life.»
Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill told CNN that while results are not yet certified, it is «highly unlikely» Jones will not be the winner of the Senate race.
«I would find that highly unlikely to occur … there’s not a whole of mistakes that are made,» Merrill said.
Should the results hold, the Republican Party’s narrow Senate majority will be trimmed to 51-49. And two wings — the establishment led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and an insurgency led by former Trump White House chief strategist Steve Bannon — are now in open civil war headed into an already fraught midterm election year.
It’s an especially awkward outcome for Trump, who endorsed Moore on Twitter and rallied for him at a campaign event just across Alabama’s state line.
«This is an earthquake… it’s devastating for the President,» a source close to the White House said.
Moore’s defeat amid allegations of child molestation and sexual assault could fuel growing calls from Democrats for Trump to resign from office over the accusations of sexual assault against him.
Shortly after the race was called, Trump tweeted, «Congratulations to Doug Jones on a hard fought victory. The write-in votes played a very big factor, but a win is a win. The people of Alabama are great, and the Republicans will have another shot at this seat in a very short period of time. It never ends!»
Los Angeles, California
Days of toil bring hard-won gains over huge California fire
As the fire straddling Santa Barbara and Ventura counties entered its 10th day, crews had carved containment lines around one-quarter of it.
But the wildfire still raged Tuesday, threatening thousands of homes and stranding tens of thousands of evacuees.
The so-called Thomas fire, one of several burning around the state, has burned over 900 structures, at least 700 of them homes. And it has stretched across nearly 370 square miles (958 sq. kilometers) of territory, making it the fifth largest in state history.
Elsewhere, fire officials announced that a cooking fire at a homeless encampment sparked a blaze last week that destroyed six homes in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles.
Arson investigators determined that the so-called Skirball fire near the world-famous Getty museum was started by an illegal fire at a camp near a freeway underpass, city fire Capt. Erik Scott said.
The camp was empty when firefighters found it but people apparently had been sleeping and cooking there for at least several days, he said.
Back at the largest of the wildfires, firefighters protected foothill homes while the fire grew mostly into forest land, Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesman Mike Eliason said.
Red Flag warnings for fire danger due to Santa Ana winds and a critical lack of moisture were extended into the week, with a possible increase in gusts Thursday into Friday.
Evacuations continued for the seaside enclaves of Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria and the inland agricultural town of Fillmore.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Eric Burdon and his wife, Marianna, of Ojai were among the people who fled the smoke Tuesday. Last week, Burdon wrote on Facebook about having to flee and returning temporarily to find their home still standing with ashes all around.
«A week like this gives you the perspective that life is what truly matters,» he wrote.
A photo accompanying the post showed his handprint and signature written in ashes.
Residents near a Carpinteria avocado orchard said the trees could end up saving their homes.
«You have a thick layer of leaves underneath the bottom and they are watered regularly, so it’s like a sponge,» Jeff Dreyer, who lives nearby, told KEYT-TV. «So the fire gets to the sponge full of water and it slows it down.»
Officials handed out masks to those who stayed behind in Montecito, an exclusive community about 75 miles (120 kilometers) from Los Angeles that’s home to stars such as Oprah Winfrey, Jeff Bridges and Drew Barrymore. Actor Rob Lowe was among residents who evacuated over the weekend.
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Nikos Mizas, Editor