By Veronica Mackey
In a stunning defeat Tuesday night, Democrat Doug Jones won Alabama’s special election for the U.S. Senate against rival and accused child molester Republican Roy Moore, who was supported by President Donald Trump.
The close victory sent a strong signal that Dems could gain control in Congress in 2018. Jones, a former prosecutor, sliced the GOP’s already thin Senate majority to a bare 51-49. Jones, 63, is a former U.S. attorney who gained fame for prosecuting two Ku Klux Klansmen responsible for the 1963 bombing of Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church decades after the strike against the civil rights movement.
Speaking to supporters with his wife by his side, Jones said he knew Dec. 12 would be a special day because it marks his 25th wedding anniversary and because no Democrat has been elected to the deeply red state in 25 years.
Jones did not mention Moore by name, nor did he talk about the alleged sexual misconduct. Instead, he specifically thanked the African American and Latino communities for electing him. The closest he came to talking about Moore’s sexual assault allegations was to say, “This election was about respect!”
Moore’s racist ideology and gender discrimination, and removal twice from the state Supreme Court—in addition to sexual molestation accusations—caused many to withdraw support. And massive turnout by black voters in Alabama helped tip the election in Jones’ favor. Jones supporter and former NBA player Charles Barkley, an Alabama native, said it was a great night and that the state has been “stuck in a time warp for a long time.”
He didn’t hold back, however, in his criticism of the Democratic Party:
“They’ve taken the black vote and the poor vote for granted for a long time. It’s time for them to get off their ass and start making things better for black folks and for people who are poor. …This is a wake-up call for Democrats to do better for black people and for poor white people.”
Prior to the election, it appeared that Moore would take the lead, but even many staunch Republicans could not bring themselves to vote for a candidate who was banned from a mall for sexually harassing teenage girls when he was a 32 year-old man. Nor could they vote Democrat. So many used write-in ballots instead.
After hearing the news that Jones won, Moore refused to concede. He pointed out that write-ins and military ballots still had to be counted, and an election could be recalled if the difference was less than one-half percent. Jones has already gathered about three times as many votes needed to make a recall a moot point.
President Trump, who originally wanted Luther Strange to run against Jones, congratulated Jones in a tweet: “Congratulations to Doug Jones on a hard fought victory. The write-in votes played a very big factor, but a win is a win. The people of Alabama are great, and the Republicans will have another shot at this seat in a very short period of time. It never ends!”