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Opinion | “D” is still DOA in Alabama

Joey Kennedy

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I’m betting U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, has his fingers tightly crossed today. And his toes. Probably his eyes, too.

Anything he can cross, Jones likely has it crossed. Today is the day former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore announces whether he’ll once again run for the U.S. Senate seat Jones snatched from him two years ago.

A rematch with Republican Moore is probably Jones’ best chance to be re-elected to his Senate seat. That is, if Moore decides today to run again, and if Moore defeats at least three other Republicans who have already announced they’re running for Jones’ seat.

Jones was a rare statewide win for a Democrat in Alabama. Without the charges of sexual abuse against Moore, revealed by The Washington Post in 2017, it is questionable that Jones would have won.

Not that Jones isn’t a good candidate, nor that he hasn’t been a good senator for Alabama.

But in Alabama, a “D” beside a statewide candidate’s name most often means DOA. The reason is simple.

In Alabama, too many voters refuse to even consider a Democrat, even one as well qualified as Jones or Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox when he ran for governor last year.

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For now, at least until the Alabama Democratic Party gets its stuff together, few Democrats can gain traction. In 2018, a well-qualified slate of Democrats running across the board pretty much were left on their own, as the state Democratic Party withheld help in their campaigns.

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The state dems are supposed to be sorting out their leadership problems, but despite direction from the National Democratic Party, the current state leadership – primarily Democratic Chair Nancy Worley and puppet master Joe Reed – are fighting reform. They’d rather keep losing election after election instead of doing what’s needed to reform the party’s broken infrastructure.

So thanks to Moore’s many detriments, not the least of which was his proclivity for teen girls when he was an assistant district attorney in Etowah County years ago, Jones was able to pull out a win. Women, and especially African-American women, were the key to Jones’ close victory.

Jones, by the way, isn’t the only person with fingers crossed today. Many state Republicans are hoping the poisonous Moore stays out of the race. Even President Donald Trump has pledged by Twitter that he won’t support Moore because Moore can’t win.

The national Republican Party is also praying that Moore stays out, too.

Because Moore could probably win the Republican primary, because the state Republican Party is dominated by folks who vote against their best interests, and there’s nobody in the state who would be more against their best interests than Moore.

Whether Moore can erase his loss against Jones by running again is unknown until 2020.

It’s pretty certain, though, that there are thousands of crossed fingers today. A few hoping that Moore does indeed enter the race. Most hoping that Moore stays out.

What they should be hoping for is that voters do what’s best for Alabama. If they did that, Jones would easily win re-election. But should’a, would’a, could’a is the sad refrain in this frustrating, Trump-loving state.

For now in Alabama, that “D” still stands for DOA.

Joey Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize winner, writes a column every week for Alabama Political Reporter. Email: [email protected]

 

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