MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court who refused to move a Ten Commandments display from a courthouse is a step closer to getting his old job back.
Roy Moore received a little more than 50 percent of the vote to win the Republican nomination for his old job, according to unofficial results Wednesday. He is heavily favored to win the general election in November over Harry Lyon, an attorney who is the Democratic nominee.
Moore got enough votes to avoid a runoff with either of his GOP opponents, a former attorney general and the current chief justice, though neither has conceded.
"We're not optimistic, but we're going to wait until final results are in from the secretary of state," former state Attorney General Charlie Graddick said in a statement. Sitting Chief Justice Chuck Malone was also in the race.
It was an improbable comeback for Moore. After being elected chief justice in 2000, he had a 5,280-pound granite monument of the Ten Commandments installed in the lobby of the state judicial building in Montgomery.
A trial court for judges removed him in 2003 for the rest of his term over his refusal to abide by a federal judge's order to remove the display. The punishment did not prevent him from running for chief justice again.
Since getting kicked out as chief justice, Moore has made two runs for governor. He lost the 2006 Republican primary to then-Gov. Bob Riley and finished fourth in the GOP primary 2010.
Moore said he does not plan to put the Ten Commandments monument back in the judicial building, but he supports a bill in the Legislature that would allow such displays in public buildings.
Some political observers said Moore was helped by Rick Santorum, who won the Republican presidential primary. Moore and Santorum are both conservative Christians.