By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Tuesday, August 15, 2017, when the Democratic Party primary field was announced most political observers recognized former US Attorney Doug Jones and a host of other candidates who were largely unknown quantities. The polls fluctuated in the middle of the race; but when voters went to the polls on Tuesday they voted overwhelmingly for the best known candidate in the field and that was Doug Jones who dominated the field with 63.6 percent of the votes cast.
According to original reporting by Alabama Media Group’s Ivana Hyrnkiw, Doug Jones said, “All my life I have been trying to work with folks to make sure people have equal opportunities–they’re treated fairly, they’re treated the same under the law, they’re treated with dignity and respect.”
Jones promised. “As your United States Senator, I am going to continue to fight for everybody in this state, I’m going to be an independent voice… I’m going to be beholden only to the people of the State of Alabama.”
Jones is a Birmingham area attorney, served as US Attorney under President Bill Clinton (D), and worked as an aide to former US Senator Howell Heflin (D).
Late in the race, Jones trailed Kennedy. Kennedy was Black and there was a general feeling that Black voters, who are the core base of the Alabama Democratic Party, preferred voting for a Black candidate. Kennedy also had a very appealing name to Democrats; though he actually has no relation to the famous political family from Massachusetts. Kennedy, however, did not have a large campaign war chest and shared very little information with the press. He did grant an interview with The Alabama Political Reporter (APR), who also interviewed Jones and Hansen. Kennedy served nine years in the US Navy where he achieved the rank of Lieutenant Commander. He has a bachelor’s degree from the US Naval Academy and a Master’s Degree from Duke; but ultimately the superior money, organization, and work by Doug Jones won out.
Jones was endorsed by US Representative Terri Sewell (D), State Representative Patricia Todd (D from Birmingham), Joe Reed and the influential Alabama Democratic Conference, Vice-President Joe Biden, and other members of Congress.
As of press time Doug Jones had 90,962 votes (63.6 percent). Former Navy Lieutenant Commander Robert Kennedy Jr. finished a distant second with 27,227 votes (19 percent). Birmingham area environmentalist Michael Hansen had 10,225 votes (7.1 percent). Bishop Will Boyd received 7,616 votes (5.3 percent). Jason Fisher received 3,286 votes (2.3 percent). Retired Army veteran and teacher Brian McGee dropped out of the race and endorsed Doug Jones weeks ago. McGee still received 1,327 votes (.9 percent). Charles Nana had 1,261 votes (.9 percent). Talladega County Constable Vann Caldwell had 1,119 votes (.8 percent).
Doug Jones won 65 of Alabama’s 67 Counties. Bishop Will Boyd carried Colbert and Lauderdale Counties. Boyd is a popular pastor in Florence.
Turnout however was abysmal. Only 17.6 percent of the electorate participated in the two major party primaries. Jones dominated the Democratic Party field; but his 90,962 votes would have been a distant third versus the votes received by both of the Republican Primary Runoff contenders former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore and US Senator Luther Strange. More than twice as many Alabama voters participated in the Republican Primary than the Democratic Primary.
Despite this, many Democratic strategists are optimistic that Jones could win a Special General Election against either Roy Moore, who some view as polarizing, or Luther Strange, who has very low favorability due to a perceived ethical cloud involving his campaign finances and his appointment by disgraced former Governor Robert Bentley (R).
As US Attorney Jones reopened the cold case of the 1963 16th Street Baptist Church bombing that killed four little girls and was the most horrific event in the history of both Birmingham and the Civil Rights Movement. Jones’ efforts resulted in the successful prosecution of the KKK members (allegedly) responsible for the terrorist attack.
The Special General Election will be December 12, 2017.