Who is Doug Jones, the Democrat who just won in Alabama?
Gordon Douglas Jones (born May 4, 1954) is an American attorney and politician, who has served as a federal prosecutor and was elected on 12th December 2017 in an upset victory to be a United States senator from Alabama.
Doug Jones supports abortion rights and the Affordable Care Act
The deep-red state elected Jones after his opponent, Moore, was accused by multiple women of pursuing relationships with them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s, and some of them accused Moore of sexual assault or abuse.
Moore, now 70, has denied the allegations, painting them as a smear campaign by the Democratic Party and the media.
Alabama’s Doug Jones may not take office until 2018
Jones, a 63-year-old attorney from Birmingham, Alabama, had never run for office before. In 2016, Alabama voted for Donald Trump by a 28-point landslide. The state has not elected a Democrat to the Senate since Richard Shelby was re-elected in 1992. However, Shelby became a Republican in 1994 and still serves in that seat.
In 1997, then-President Bill Clinton named Jones the US attorney for the Northern District of Alabama in Birmingham.
Five years later, Jones served as the lead prosecutor in a lawsuit against two of the four Ku Klux Klan members responsible for the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in September 1963. This act of racial violence killed four African-American girls during church services.
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. had called it “one of the most vicious and tragic crimes ever perpetrated against humanity.”
Thomas Edwin Blanton Jr. and Bobby Frank Cherry were found guilty in 2001 and 2002, respectively, and each was sentenced to four life terms.
Jones was also involved in the prosecution of Eric Rudolph, whose 1998 attack on a Birmingham abortion clinic killed an off-duty police officer. Rudolph was sentenced in 2005, after Jones left office.
Referencing his time going after the KKK, Jones wrote a Huffington Post op-ed in September, saying he does not want to let history repeat itself.
“Sadly, the pattern of violence as a response to hope has reasserted itself,” he wrote. “We saw it in the Charleston church massacre in 2015. We saw it on display in Charlottesville this past August. We’ve seen it in the attacks on mosques and synagogues, and against the LGBT community. We see it in the hostility toward the Latino community. We cannot sweep this violence under the rug. We must address the forces that lead to it and prosecute those who perpetrate such acts.”
On the issues
Jones is a supporter of abortion rights,telling AL.com, “I fully support a woman’s freedom to choose what happens to her own body. That is an intensely, intensely personal decision that only she, in consultation with her god, her doctor, her partner or family, that’s her choice.”
Jones is also a supporter of former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Writing on his campaign website, Jones says he is “disturbed” by the multiple attempts to repeal the law. “I would adamantly oppose any proposal that does not protect Alabamians from rising health care costs, higher premiums and out-of-pocket expenses while ensuring those with preexisting conditions cannot be denied coverage or charged more,” he wrote.
On the Second Amendment, Jones told MSNBC in an interview that he is a “Second Amendment guy” but called for expanded background checks.
He is pro-LGBT and has criticized Trump for his decisions to withdraw the guidelines for schools for the treatment of transgender students and to ban transgender people from serving in the military. The latter decision has been blocked by the courts.
Jones supports reforming the tax code but does not back the current Senate GOP bill,which he called “overloaded” with tax breaks for the wealthy. As Jones will not be seated until January, it is most likely he will not vote on the bill that’s in conference in Congress.
On the issue of border security, Jones’ campaign told PolitiFact in November that he supports strengthening security on the border but has called the proposed wall “too expensive.”
Jones supports the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which defers deportation for young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children.
Trump ended DACA, but Democrats and several Republicans are hoping to legislatively fix it.
Doug Jones Early life
Doug Jones was born in 1954 in Fairfield, Alabama, to Gordon and Gloria Jones.
His father worked at U.S. Steel and his mother was a homemaker. Jones graduated from the University of Alabama with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science in 1976 and earned his Juris Doctor from Cumberland School of Law at Samford University in 1979.
He began his career by working as staff counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee for Democratic Senator Howell Heflin from Alabama.
Jones then worked as an Assistant U.S. Attorney from 1980 to 1984 before resigning to work at a private law firm in Birmingham, Alabama, from 1984 to 1997.
President Bill Clinton announced on August 18, 1997, his intent to appoint Jones as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, and formally nominated Jones to the post on September 2, 1997.
On September 8, 1997, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama appointed Jones as interim U.S. Attorney. The Senate confirmed Jones’ nomination on November 8, 1997, by voice vote.
In January 1998, Eric Rudolph bombed the New Woman All Women Health Care Center in Birmingham. Jones became responsible for coordinating the state and federal task force in the aftermath, and advocated for Rudolph to be tried first in Birmingham before being extradited and tried in Georgia for his crimes in that state, such as the Centennial Olympic Park bombing.
16th Street Baptist Church bombing case
Jones prosecuted Thomas Edwin Blanton Jr. and Bobby Frank Cherry, two members of the Ku Klux Klan, for their roles in the 1963 16th Street Baptist Church bombing. The case was reopened the year before Jones was appointed, but did not pick up traction until his appointment.
A federal grand jury was called in 1998 which piqued Cherry’s ex-wife, Willadean Cherry’s, attention and led her to call the FBI to report her testimony. Willadean then introduced Jones to family and friends who reported their own experiences from the time of the bombing.
A key piece of evidence was a tape from the time of the bombing in which Blanton stated that he had plotted with others to make the bomb. Jones was deputized in order to argue in state court and was able to indict Blanton and Cherry in 2000.
Blanton was found guilty in 2001, and Cherry was found guilty in 2002. Both Blanton and Cherry were sentenced to life in prison. Blanton was up for parole in 2016, at which Jones spoke in opposition to his potential release. Blanton’s parole was denied. Cherry died in prison in 2004.
Later legal career and campaign for U.S. Senate
Jones left office in 2001 and returned to private practice. In 2004, he was court-appointed General Special Master in an environmental clean-up case involving Monsanto in Anniston, Alabama.
In 2007 Jones was honored with the 15th Anniversary Civil Rights Distinguished Service Award from the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Also in 2007, Jones testified before the United States House Committee on the Judiciary about the importance of re-examining crimes of the Civil Rights Era. He created the Birmingham firm Jones & Hawley, PC with longtime friend Greg Hawley in 2013.
He was named one of B-Metro Magazine’s Fusion Award winners in 2015. In 2017 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Alabama chapter of the Young Democrats of America.
In May 2017, Jones announced his candidacy for that year’s U.S. Senate special election, running for the seat left open when Jeff Sessions—who held the seat of Jones’ former boss, Howell Heflin—was appointed as Attorney General. He won the Democratic nomination in August, and became the Senator-elect for Alabama after defeating Roy Moore in the general election on December 12, 2017.
Jones and his wife, Louise New Jones, were married on December 12, 1992.
The Joneses have three children: Courtney, Carson, and Christopher.
He has been a member of the Canterbury United Methodist Church in Mountain Brook for more than 33 years.