Actor and martial artist Chuck Norris has endorsed former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore in next week's primary election to fill Attorney General Jeff Sessions' old Senate seat.
"Judge Roy Moore is the real deal," Norris said in a statement announcing his support Monday. "He's tough, tested, and has a spine of steel."
Norris, an Air Force veteran and active Republican, added, "Alabama needs Judge Moore there doing what he's always done: fighting to protect our constitutional rights to life, religious liberty, and the freedom to protect ourselves and our families. And he will always put principle over politics."
Moore reciprocated the praise, stating that he was honored to have the support. "Chuck Norris is exactly the kind of guy you want on your side," Moore said in a news release announcing the endorsement.
Norris' endorsement comes just over a week before Alabama Republicans will select their nominee to run for the seat. The special election primary is August 15, but if no candidate receives at least 50% of the vote -- as GOP operatives say is likely -- then a runoff between the top two candidates will be held September 26, with the victor facing the Democratic nominee in the general election December 12.
Three Republican candidates have arisen as frontrunners in a field of eight contenders. Moore is running against the incumbent, Sen. Luther Strange, and Rep. Mo Brooks in what has proven a close -- and contentious -- race. Super PAC ads have flooded the airwaves in Alabama as top GOP operatives and donors support their preferred candidates.
Strange was appointed to fill Sessions' vacant seat by then-Gov. Robert Bentley, who resigned in scandal in April. Strange had been serving as the state's attorney general until the appointment. Brooks, a member of the conservative Freedom Caucus, has served in the House since 2011.
Moore was suspended as chief justice of Alabama's Supreme Court by the state Court of the Judiciary in May 2016 for refusing to comply with the US Supreme Court's decision legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide. Moore said the Supreme Court decision was worse than its 19th-Century decision upholding racial segregation.
Moore was previously removed as chief justice in 2003 for defying a federal court order to remove a monument to the Ten Commandments from the Alabama Judicial Building, where the state Supreme Court is located. But he was elected again as chief justice of the state's high court in 2012.