Doug Jones wins the Alabama Senate seat after a nail-biting election race
Jones’s victory is a strong message that there is now another positive signal for the Democrats heading into 2018 mid-term elections. The electoral map on the next year elections is more in favour of the Republicans, who are defending only 8 seats against 26 seats of Democrats. –Shiva Shankar Pandian*
In any ordinary election in Alabama, a Republican candidate would walk into his seat, zapping away the Democratic candidate like a pesky mosquito. But this time, the candidates were different making the Alabama special Senate election a different kind of race.
The election took place in Alabama on December 12, to fill a vacancy in the 100 member senate through the end of the term ending on January 2021, arising from the resignation of Jeff Sessions who was chosen to serve as a U.S. Attorney General.
For the first time in over 25 years, Alabama has elected a Democrat to the Senate office.
Jones’s greatest advantage was the waning popularity of Republican candidate Roy Moore throughout the campaign, as a former chief justice on the Alabama Supreme Court; Moore is known for his controversies but managed to retain a loyal base of conservatives, that he calculated, would likely lead him to the Senate.
Even during the campaigns, Moore got embroiled in a notorious sexual misconduct scandal; he was well-known for his fundamentalist views on same-sex marriages and abortion issues, more to this, his opposition to Muslims serving in the governments.
Like Moore, Jones is not a new face to Alabama; He is a senior prosecutor and former U.S. attorney from Birmingham, who is still known for prosecuting two Ku Klux Klan members, who were finally convicted in 2001 in a Church bombing case.
Throughout the campaign, it was clear that Jones maintained a low profile on the national stage. He knew all about Alabama and his strength and weakness. Reports say that he did not even associate too much with senior Democratic senators and leaders. But he was supported by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. He avoided talking about the allegations against Moore, preferring to stick to other issues like health care.
Jones’s victory deals a severe blow to Steve Bannon, former Trump’s strategist, and a similar blow to President Trump, as these results prove that President Trump has limits. As Ella Nilsen writes in the Vox News, “Jones is a moderate red-state Democrat who had been careful to keep his distance publicly from the national party and not appear too closely aligned with Democratic leadership in Congress, especially trying to appeal to Alabama’s conservative Democrats and independent voters. One of the main lines of attack on Jones came from President Trump, who frequently tweeted that Jones would be a “puppet” of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.”
Democratic majority in Senate is now not out of the question, but still, it’s a long road to achieve for the Democrats. The Republican majority in the Senate after their Alabama defeat is 51-49. “Still, Alabama’s conservative population provided a close race. The Democratic nominee (and now Senator-elect) Doug Jones was a pro-choice candidate in a pro-life state. Jones’ fundamental disadvantage was compounded by endorsements from President Trump, Steve Bannon, and a cadre of deeply conservative politicians and commentators in favour of Roy Moore… Those politicos embraced Roy Moore even after the credible allegations of his sexual proclivities emerged, and the Republican National Committee even resumed its funding for the race after a brief hiatus.” writes John Hudak at the Brookings.
“Yet, in the face of all of this, Alabamians looked at their choices and opted to do what many thoughts were unthinkable: they elected a Democrat. Surely, many Republicans stayed home or wrote in protest votes, disgusted by Roy Moore, but unable to vote for a Democrat. But still, many Republicans had to have cast ballots for the Democrat in order for Doug Jones to be elected. American voters do not always make the right choice, but in dire situations, voters and democratic institutions can prevail and do what is right.” John Hudak added.
Jones’s victory is a strong message that there is now another positive signal for the Democrats heading into 2018 mid-term elections. The electoral map on the next year elections is more in favour of the Republicans, who are defending only 8 seats against 26 seats of Democrats. Doug Jones will remain in the Senate until a reelection in 2020, means that Democrats will have to bag just two more seats to flip the Senate. And the Republicans will leave no stone unturned to stop this from happening as they can’t afford to lose the Senate majority.
*Shiva Shankar Pandian is the Consulting Editor at The Kootneeti, stationed at Chennai. He holds a Masters in International Relations with specializations in U.S. Foreign Policy
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Kootneeti Team