Republican Roy Moore refuses to concede as his party came to grips with what the defeat meant for their narrow majority in the Senate. US President Donald Trump has reportedly blamed Steven Bannon for the loss.
Controversial Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama still refused to concede defeat late on Wednesday, saying he would wait for the "final count" of the votes, which could take until the beginning of January.
Moore, a far-right former state Supreme Court judge who was accused of harassing and assaulting multiple underage girls in the 1970s, lost to Doug Jones, the first Democrat elected to an Alabama Senate seat in a quarter century.
Estimates indicate that Jones won by about 1.5 percent, or 20,000 votes. Moore said he would wait to see if a recount was called, despite Alabama Secretary of State saying such an outcome was "very unlikely."
Moore's defeat was also seen as a major blow to US President Donald Trump, who threw his support behind the former judge even as mainstream Republicans were calling for Moore to withdraw from the race over the assault claims and his openly bigoted platform.
Trump blames Bannon
At first, Trump shared an uncharacteristically magnanimous message of congratulations to Jones on Twitter, before following up with the qualification that "Roy worked hard but the deck was stacked against him."
According to the Washington Post, however, Trump was angered at the perceived humiliation of Moore's defeat, blaming former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon for the loss of a key Senate seat to Democrats. Bannon, who supported Roy Moore on the campaign trail, had sold a fake "bill of goods," in persuading the president to support him, Trump reportedly said.
Other far-right Republicans blamed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, for first calling in Moore to step out of the race and then distancing himself from the vote.
Doug Jones' victory could be further damaging to Republicans as it narrows their majority in the Senate to just 51 of 100 seats.
With the prospect of their tax reform bill looming, it seemed likely that Congress would try to push forward a vote on the legislation next week before Jones could be sworn in.
es/ng (AP, Reuters)