Calling his victory “historic,” former United States Attorney Doug Jones, a Democrat, addressed cheering supporters shortly after his close victory over Republican nominee Judge Roy Moore Tuesday in Birmingham, Alabama.
Only two months ago, few would have predicted a Jones victory in the Yellowhammer State, which had not elected a Democrat since the 1990s. But on Tuesday, it was Jones, a avowed pro-abortion, anti-gun liberal, giving an appeal to unity from his podium in this deepest red of states.
“We have shown the country the way we can be unified,” Jones told his supporters, many carrying the signs of the Human Rights Campaign, a well-known national pro-gay group.
“As everyone in probably the entire free world knows right now, we’ve tried to make sure that this campaign was about finding common ground and reaching across and actually getting things done for the people,” Jones added later.
Jones gave thanks to the constituencies that secured his victory. “It was every community,” he said, “The African American community – thank you! My friends in the Latino community – thank you! To all my Jewish friends – Happy Hanukkah!”
Jones made no mention of Alabama’s white majority, whom exit polls showed voted against him by more than two to one. The same polls showed more than 95% of black Alabamians voters chose Jones.
Jones also downplayed the importance of his opponent, Roy Moore, to the race. “It’s never been about me. It’s never been about Roy Moore. It’s been about every one of you and your sons and daughters,” he told supporters, thanking his own staff and volunteers.
Moore had been the central focus in most coverage of the campaign since a major scandal over his fitness began with a Washington Post piece featuring a woman claiming Moore touched her sexually when she was 14-years-old.
Jones only briefly spoke about policy, urging his soon to be U.S. Senate colleagues to reauthorize funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) before he takes his seat. Some Democrats in Congress have demanded amnesty before this can occur.
Closing with an oft-cited Martin Luther King Jr. quote about the moral arch of the universe bending towards justice, Jones told the crowd, “You helped bend that moral arc a little closer to that justice … you sent it right through the heart of the great state of Alabama.”
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