In a shocking upset Tuesday night, Democrat Doug Jones was projected to become the US senator-elect for the state of Alabama, defeating embattled Republican Roy Moore.
The deep-red state elected Jones after his opponent, Moore, was accused by multiple women of pursuing relationships with them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s, and some of them accused Moore of sexual assault or abuse.
Moore, now 70, has denied the allegations, painting them as a smear campaign by the Democratic Party and the media.
Jones, a 63-year-old attorney from Birmingham, Alabama, had never run for office before. In 2016, Alabama voted for Donald Trump by a 28-point landslide. The state has not elected a Democrat to the Senate since Richard Shelby was re-elected in 1992. However, Shelby became a Republican in 1994 and still serves in that seat.
In 1997, then-President Bill Clinton named Jones the US attorney for the Northern District of Alabama in Birmingham. Five years later, Jones served as the lead prosecutor in a lawsuit against two of the four Ku Klux Klan members responsible for the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in September 1963. This act of racial violence killed four African-American girls during church services. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. had called it “one of the most vicious and tragic crimes ever perpetrated against humanity.” Thomas Edwin Blanton Jr. and Bobby Frank Cherry were found guilty in 2001 and 2002, respectively, and each was sentenced to four life terms.
Jones was also involved in the prosecution of Eric Rudolph, whose 1998 attack on a Birmingham abortion clinic killed an off-duty police officer. Rudolph was sentenced in 2005, after Jones left office.
Referencing his time going after the KKK, Jones wrote a Huffington Post op-ed in September, saying he does not want to let history repeat itself.
“Sadly, the pattern of violence as a response to hope has reasserted itself,” he wrote. “We saw it in the Charleston church massacre in 2015. We saw it on display in Charlottesville this past August. We’ve seen it in the attacks on mosques and synagogues, and against the LGBT community. We see it in the hostility toward the Latino community. We cannot sweep this violence under the rug. We must address the forces that lead to it and prosecute those who perpetrate such acts.”
On the issues
Jones is a supporter of abortion rights, telling AL.com, “I fully support a woman’s freedom to choose what happens to her own body. That is an intensely, intensely personal decision that only she, in consultation with her god, her doctor, her partner or family, that’s her choice.”
Jones is also a supporter of former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Writing on his campaign website, Jones says he is “disturbed” by the multiple attempts to repeal the law. “I would adamantly oppose any proposal that does not protect Alabamians from rising health care costs, higher premiums and out-of-pocket expenses while ensuring those with preexisting conditions cannot be denied coverage or charged more,” he wrote.
On the Second Amendment, Jones told MSNBC in an interview that he is a “Second Amendment guy” but called for expanded background checks.
He is pro-LGBT and has criticized Trump for his decisions to withdraw the guidelines for schools for the treatment of transgender students and to ban transgender people from serving in the military. The latter decision has been blocked by the courts.
Jones supports reforming the tax code but does not back the current Senate GOP bill, which he called “overloaded” with tax breaks for the wealthy. As Jones will not be seated until January, it is most likely he will not vote on the bill that’s in conference in Congress.
On the issue of border security, Jones’ campaign told PolitiFact in November that he supports strengthening security on the border but has called the proposed wall “too expensive.” Jones supports the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which defers deportation for young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children. Trump ended DACA, but Democrats and several Republicans are hoping to legislatively fix it.