By KIM CHANDLER Associated Press
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Conservative lightning rod Roy Moore will announce this week if he is running for U.S. Senate in 2020.
Moore’s wife, Kayla Moore, confirmed that he will make an announcement on the Senate race Thursday. Moore, who lost in 2017 to Democrat Doug Jones, told The Associated Press last month that he was seriously considering another run.
Moore was defeated amid allegations of long ago sexual misconduct with teenagers. Moore denied the allegations.
President Donald Trump last month appeared to discourage Moore from entering the race. Trump tweeted that Moore “cannot win” and said Republicans need to retake the seat in the once reliably red state. Trump added that if Democrats retain the seat in 2020, “many of the incredible gains that we have made during my Presidency may be lost.”
Moore brushed aside that assertion that he can’t win. He told The Associated Press last month that he believed that establishment Republicans are trying to keep him out of the race and put pressure on Trump.
“Everybody knows I can win and that’s what’s worrying in Washington.” Moore said last month.
Jones narrowly defeated Moore in 2017 by 22,000 votes out of 1.3 million cast in a special election to fill the seat previously held by Jeff Sessions, who became Trump’s attorney general.
Republicans control the Senate 53-47 and view defeating Jones as a top priority. Jones, 65, is considered the most endangered Democratic incumbent facing re-election in 2020, a year when several GOP senators are vulnerable and control of the chamber will be at stake.
During the 2017 race, six women accused Moore of pursuing romantic or sexual relationships with them when they were teenagers and he was an assistant district attorney in his 30s. Two, including a woman who was 14 at the time, accused him of assault or molestation, accusations that he has vehemently denied.
As he weighs another Senate bid, Moore contends the 2017 election was a “fraud.”
Moore has a strong following among Alabama’s evangelical voters, support that propelled him to twice being elected as the state’s chief justice.
Before the 2017 race, the West Point graduate was best known for hardline stances as Alabama chief justice against allowing gay couples to marry and in favor of public display of the Ten Commandments. A judicial ethics panel twice removed him from the bench, ruling he had defied, or urged defiance, of federal court orders.
Moore would be part of a crowded GOP primary field if he enters the race.
Republican candidates already include Congressman Bradley Byrne, former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville and state Rep. Arnold Mooney. Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said he will announce a decision next week.