Doug Jones’s US Senate victory in Alabama was a major upset and has sent shockwaves through the US Republican Party and the conservative South. This rare victory could present a situation where Democrats may be able to take control of the Senate in the 2018 election.
Some view Jones’s win as the first of many Democratic victories in the 2018 elections. This is a result of the internal conflict between establishment members and the more right-wing branch of the Republican Party found in the White House, and the unpopular policies advocated by the Republicans and President Trump.
Jones’s victory triumphed over the controversial Roy Moore (R), who was weighed down by allegations of sexual misconduct with young teenage girls. Before running for office Moore had served as the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. He was removed twice: first, because he refused to take down a statue of the Ten Commandments that he displayed outside the Alabama Supreme Court building, and second, for refusing to adhere to the US Supreme Court’s decision on sexual equality.
Moore had the backing of conservatives and Christian fundamentalists in the election. He seemed in control of the situation until the Washington Post published the account of a woman who said she was groped by Moore when she was 14 and he was in his 30s. Moore lost support from national Republicans, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and Alabama’s other senator Richard Shelby.
Senator-elect Jones says that he is a “middle-of-the-road kind of guy” and that he wants to try to make deals with both sides. However, he is opposed to many of Trump’s policy goals and his vote against Republican initiatives could throw party members into disarray as they enter the 2018 election year with having legislated only a widely condemned tax bill.
Who is Doug Jones?
Though Jones’s victory in the Alabama Senate race was narrow – he secured 49.9% of the vote while Moore received 48.4% – a win by a Democrat in conservative Alabama hasn’t happened in over two decades.
Jones is a strong supporter of civil rights, women’s rights and expansion of government-supported medical care. Jones also has common ground with some of the more moderate Democrats and Republicans – he believes in increasing defence spending and lowering corporate taxes.
Alabama has been marred by a series of corruption scandals that have even affected former governor Robert Bentley (R). In light of all these scandals, Jones ran on an anti-corruption campaign to appeal to independent voters.
Jones observed, “The people of Alabama have been embarrassed by corruption and a string of ethics investigations and convictions of people they placed into positions of power and trust. They deserve better. We all deserve better.”
Jones’s victory will bolster Democratic numbers in the Senate and provide more resistance to the Republicans and to President Trump’s policy initiatives.
In regard to the 2018 elections, Jones’s victory will have implications more visible outside of Alabama and the Deep South and gives the Democratic Party much-needed momentum in swing states and districts.
Jones has already stated that he is against repealing Obama’s Affordable Care Act and supports policies that differ from President Trump. He is opposed to Trump, who actively supported Moore the entire election, and will most likely vote in ways that will hurt the president’s already poor track record.
The greatest impact for the 2020 election is not Jones’s victory, but Moore’s nomination. By supporting Moore, Trump widened the schism between populist-thinking Republicans and establishment members, led by Senator McConnell.
Trump also further damaged his own reputation by supporting Moore, who is plagued with sexual assault allegations and has proven to be the most unelectable Republican in Alabama. Trump himself has been accused of sexual assault.
The Republican Party is left scrambling for answers following the loss in Alabama to a Democrat, and with the 2018 election on the horizon, it is setting a stage where the Democrats have an opportunity to gain control of the Senate and House.