BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore is not conceding to Democrat Doug Jones, telling campaign supporters “it’s not over.”
Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill reported Moore with 48.38 percent of the vote and Jones with 49.92 percent of the vote, CBS News reported.
“Realize, when the vote is this close, it is not over,” Moore said during a brief appearance before supporters Tuesday night. “It’s not over and it’s going to take some time.”
Campaign chairman Bill Armistead says because the vote is close and approaching the state’s recount requirement, “we do not have a final decision on the outcome.”
Alabama state law calls for a recount if the margin of victory is less than one-half of one percentage point. With all precincts reporting, Jones leads by 1.5 percentage points — three times what’s required to trigger a recount.
If the secretary of state determines there were more write-in votes than the difference between Jones and Moore, the state’s counties would be required to tally those votes.
It’s not clear how that would help Moore, who ended the night trailing Jones by more than 20,000 votes.
Jones’ victory makes him the first Democrat to win a Senate seat in Alabama in more than two decades and will narrow the Senate Republican majority to 51-49.
“Alabama has been at a crossroads,” he told supporters Tuesday night. “We have been at crossroads in the past and unfortunately we have usually taken the wrong fork. Tonight ladies and gentlemen, you took the right road.”
Even Jones seemed surprised by his win, CBS2’s Mary Calvi reported.
“I think that I have been waiting all my life, and now I just don’t know what the hell to say,” Jones said.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump is defending his decision to initially back Sen. Luther Strange against Moore, saying in a predawn tweet that “Roy worked hard but the deck was stacked against him.”
The president had sent a tweet late Tuesday congratulating Jones, a former federal prosecutor, on his “hard fought victory.”
“The write-in votes played a very big factor, but a win is a win,” he said.
Even with Jones’ victory, Republicans still maintain control of both houses of Congress. Their majority in the Senate though shrinks to 51-49.
“Most Republican members including the leadership are relieved,” Republica analyst Dan Senor told “CBS This Morning.” “Generally they are relieved because they recognize that they’re heading into a tough year in 2018, the House in particular is really up for grabs and the last thing they want is the Democrats to be able to tell every Republican on every ballot you own Roy Moore.”
Jones takes over the seat previously held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The term expires in January of 2021.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)