Doug Jones on Senate victory: “Old Alabama” lost to “New Alabama”

(CBS NEWS) — Democrat Doug Jones made headlines last Tuesday winning the election for U.S. Senate in Alabama. This morning, the Senator-elect has some questions to answer from Manuel Bojorquez: 

Even after Roy Moore faced multiple accusations of sexual misconduct, some involving teenagers, many political experts thought the Republican — who rode his horse in to cast his vote last week — could still ride off to victory.

But they didn’t ask Doug Jones — now the first Democratic Senator from Alabama in decades.

How did he do it?

“People forget that, you know, a Republican didn’t send anybody to the Senate for over 100 years before; that changed,” Jones said. “And it changes one election at a time.”

Bojorquez asked, “Do you think you would’ve won had the Washington Post not broken the story about the sexual misconduct allegations against Roy Moore?”

“Yes,” Jones replied. “I think we would’ve beaten him. We were getting traction. We were being inclusive and talking about issues that people care about.”

His stunning win in deep-red Alabama came by about 20,000 votes — that slim margin of victory thanks to Republicans who rejected Moore with write-in votes, and a significant turnout by African-Americans.

Bojorquez asked Jones about his victory speech last Tuesday: “You got up there and said, ‘I feel like I’ve been waiting my whole life for this, and now, I don’t know what the hell to say.’ Is it because you were so surprised, shocked?”

“No, I was just kind of overcome,” said Jones. “It was just being out on that stage and seeing that little sea of people that when you look across there, it represented Alabama.”

So who is Doug Jones?

The 63-year-old grew up in Fairfield, Alabama, when the South was still segregated. His interest in social justice led him to become a lawyer.

In 1997 he was appointed U.S. Attorney, and he decided to take on a case that had been unresolved for decades: the 1963 church bombing in Birmingham, Ala., that killed four African-American girls. He prosecuted two of the Klansmen who were involved – a fact that became a prominent part of this year’s campaign.

“It seemed to have resonated,” said Bojorquez.

“It did,” said Jones. “It was important for everyone in the state. When you’re on the right side of history, you can accomplish a lot of things.”

Prosecuting that case earned him comparisons to another Alabama attorney, Atticus Finch, the moral hero in the classic novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which Jones called  “incredibly flattering.”

He showed Bojorquez his autographed copy of the book signed by Harper Lee. “And she put on there, ‘To Doug Jones, with admiration.’ That’s a real prize!”

But Jones says he’s still a red-state Democrat. He a gun owner and hunter, and a strong Second Amendment supporter; and while he would not vote for the current GOP tax bill, he does favor lowering the corporate tax rate.

He says his win is proof his “Sweet Home Alabama” wants more from politicians.

Bojorquez said, “One of your supporters who was out canvassing, we interviewed him, [and] he said this is old Alabama versus new Alabama.”

“I think that that’s a good description,” Jones said.

“What is ‘old Alabama’?”

“Old Alabama is nothing but divisive politics — demagogues that try to divide us. You know, we are still living with all of the images in black and white, and of the George Wallace era, and the Roy Moores, to be honest with you.

“I am here for all people. And Alabama is changing. Alabama is getting more diverse every day. … That’s the new Alabama.”

While he still hasn’t heard from Roy Moore, Jones says he got a gracious phone call from President Trump congratulating him on Election Night — and says he knows, even in victory, he now has a lot of Alabamians to win over.

Jones said, “I can work with the president. I can work with people in my own party. And when I talk about reaching across the aisle, there’s probably a fair amount of issues I want to reach inside the Democratic caucus, to try to pull them a little bit more to make sure that they know that the people of Alabama might need a little bit different direction.”

“That sounds great. But given the current political climate, is it possible?”

“It’s as possible as a snow in December in Alabama, or a long-shot Democrat getting elected from a deep red state!”

Categories: Regional News

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