Moore’s victory comes despite being outspent by a margin of 10-to-1 against Strange, who had been appointed in January to the seat vacated by Jeff Sessions’ confirmation as US attorney general.
Moore was twice removed as Alabama’s chief justice, first for for refusing to remove a monument to the Ten Commandments that he famously installed in the state courthouse and more recently for refusing to implement the US supreme court ruling legalizing gay marriage.
Despite that, he is considered an overwhelming favorite in the deep red state against Democrat Doug Jones in December’s general election.
The result comes as a major blow to Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell who had strongly backed Strange. A Super Pac closely linked to McConnell spent over $9m on behalf of the incumbent, who was considered a loyal supporter of Senate GOP leadership. However, Moore was able to turn McConnell’s opposition into an asset. In his election eve rally in a barn in Fairhope, Alabama, the loudest applause came when Moore declared “Mitch McConnell needs to be replaced”.
Moore’s win also will be embarrassing for Donald Trump who had endorsed Strange and appeared with him in a Huntsville rally on Friday.