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International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

Why Doug Jones’ Win Matters

On Tuesday, the 12th of December 2017, Doug Jones won the Alabama Senate race against Republican Roy Moore, becoming the first Democrat since 1992 to win a Senate seat in Alabama. Jones and Moore were running in a closely contested race for the vacant seat left by Jeff Sessions when President Trump appointed him as Attorney General. This win came as a shock, something that was once considered unimaginable in one of the most conservative states in the nation. This race was filled with heavy controversy and media attention, intensifying, when in November 2017, Republican opponent Roy Moore was accused of sexually abusing young girls when he was in his thirties and refused to withdraw from the race. This unforeseen win brings into question the future of both the Republican and Democratic parties, hinting at the possible reversal of the Republican majority Senate. 

The African-American Voters

CNN’s exit poll found that 30% of the electorate for Alabama was black, which is a higher share than in the 2008 and 2012 elections, when Barack Obama was on the ballot. The exit poll showed that 96% of black voters backed Jones. This record turn out illustrates that Doug Jones’ campaign, targeting African-American voters, did not go unnoticed – appealing to this group played an essential role in his victory in Alabama’s cities and predominantly black rural counties. In his campaigning efforts, Jones brought in political leaders from throughout the United States, including Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Deval Patrick, the former Massachusetts governor.

The Write Ins

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With the allegations of sexual assault, many Republican-leaning voters could not bring themselves to vote for Moore. Included in this group were prominent Alabamian politicians who chose to publicly denounced Moore. Sen. Richard Shelby told CNN prior to the election, “I didn’t vote for Roy Moore, I wouldn’t vote for Roy Moore, I think the Republican Party can do better.” Instead, he chose to write in “a distinguished Republicans name.” Jones also received financial backing from Jeff Flake, a Senate Republican, who tweeted a photograph of a check with “Country over Party” written in the subject line. More than 20,000 voters cast write-in ballots, which turned out to be 1.7 percent of the electorate – approximately Jones’s overall margin. This decision taken by many Republican politicians reflects the symbolic and difficult choice between upholding ethical and moral standards or articulating their political positions.

Trump’s Role

President Trump, with advice from his former chief strategist Steve Bannon, publicly endorsed Roy Moore, attempting to rally support behind Moore as the margins between Moore and Jones decreased. He joined him at Moore’s rally in the Gulf Coast town of Pensacola, Florida. In doing so, he disregarded the accusations against Moore, stating “He totally denies it. He says it didn’t happen. And look, you have to look at him also.” On Fox News, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway suggested that the need for Moore’s vote on tax reform was more important to the administration’s position than the sexual misconduct allegations against him. However, soon after the loss of Moore, Trump quickly saved himself from any public embarrassment by distancing himself from Moore, insisting that he had been right all along on his Twitter: “The reason I originally endorsed Luther Strange (and his numbers went up mightily), is that I said Roy Moore will not be able to win the General Election.”

The Senate

This year, Republicans in Washington have struggled to pass major legislation, failing by single-vote margins to repeal the Affordable Care Act and narrowing approving a deep tax cut. The Republican Party’s narrow Senate majority has been trimmed to 51-49. This decreasing majority opens up the plausible path for Democrats to make gains in the Senate next year. Jones, best known for prosecuting two Klu Klux Klansmen for the 1963 bombing in Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church, will be an important force working with President Trump on strengthening his state’s defense industry, as well as with the rest of the state’s Congressional delegation. Jones has promised to fight for pro-abortion policies, reducing student loan debt and raising the minimum wage. He has also expressed strong desire to find common ground with Republicans.

By Ananiya Neeck

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