In Alabama Special Election Democrats Pray for a Chance

Doug Jones at a campaign event on August 12, 2017. (Unmodified Creative Commons photo by Open Minded in Alabama.

The Democrats have not had a serious contender in the Alabama U.S. Senate race since 1996, when Jeff Sessions beat out democratic hopeful Roger Bedford.

Ever since 1996, Sessions has had a firm grasp on his senate seat, but now that Sessions has traded in his senate seat for a place in Donald Trump’s cabinet Democrats are attempting to put up a fight ahead of December’s special election.

The Democrats are throwing their support behind former U.S. attorney Doug Jones. The last Democrat to win a Senate election in the state was Richard Shelby in 1992, two years later he became a Republican.

On Tuesday, September 26, Former Judge Roy Moore won the GOP nomination for the Alabama. Moore beat out Donald Trump’s choice, the appointed Alabama senator following Sessions’ appointment Luther Strange.

In 1990, Democratic Senator Howell Heflin one a third term before retiring in 1996 opening the door for Sessions to beat the previously mentioned Bedford.

Jones is an Alabaman native, born to a blue-collar family in Fairfield, Alabama in 1954. He graduated from the University of Alabama in 1976 and went on to get his law degree from the Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham Alabama in 1979.

In 1997, President Bill Clinton appointed Jones as the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama.

Jones has built a deep relationship with the Alabama community. Jones was key in coordinating task forces in Alabama after the 1998 bombing of the New Woman All Women Health Care Center in Birmingham by Eric Rudolph.

Jones also played a key role in the prosecution of two Ku Klux Klan members, Thomas Edwin Blanton Jr. and Bobby Frank Cherry, for their roles in the 1963 16th Street Baptist Church bombing.

However, Jones has never held elected office before and is running in a state that gave Donald Trump a 28-point victory in the election last year. Alabama has not elected any democrat to statewide office this decade.

Jones, however, does have a connection to a key figure in Alabama politics, Howell Heflin.

Jones served as staff counsel to the U.S Senate Judiciary Committee for Senator Heflin, and still considers him a role model today.

Jones won the democratic nomination in August, beating out several other hopefuls and gaining more than 60 percent of the vote.

Along the away Jones received the endorsement of former Vice President Joe Biden. Biden spoke at a rally for Jones on October 3, and plans to join Jones at other stops along the campaign trial.

After winning the democratic nomination, Jones looks forward to a December 12 special election against Moore.

Moore’s victory against Luther Strange shows that the GOP might not have such a tight grip on Alabama. The democrats are looking to take advantage of a disconnect between the Alabama people and the establishment which could, however remote, let them win their first statewide national election in Alabama this decade.

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