In a nail-biting special election for the Alabama Senate seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Democrat Doug Jones beat out Republican Roy Moore on Tuesday night, winning narrowly with 49.9% of the vote.
Jones’s win is particularly notable, as Alabama hadn’t elected a Democrat senator since 1992—and that man, Richard Shelby, went on to change party affiliation.
The race hinged largely on accusations of sexual misconduct against Moore (which he denies), with politics—Jones’s especially—taking a backseat. So now that he’s achieving a rather stunning victory, Americans may finally be asking: Who is Doug Jones?
Prosecution of Birmingham church bombers
Jones is perhaps best known for having successfully prosecuted members of the Ku Klux Klan over the 1963 Birmingham church bombing that killed four African-American girls. As a former federal prosecutor, the 63-year-old had never before run for office prior to his Senate bid.
A political outsider with pro-choice abortion stance
A progressive in a historically conservative state that backed Trump by 28 points, Jones campaigned on liberal values—opposing, for example, the Hyde Amendment, which prevents federal funding for abortion. He is both pro-choice and pro-LGBT rights. While he has called for an increase in the minimum wage, he has also supported lower taxes as a means to encourage investment in the country.
Jones believes in climate change and supports renewable energy. At the same time, he has promised to advocate for retraining programs and health care for out-of-work miners. Jones opposes the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, suggesting it needs to be fixed, not repealed. Despite supporting traditional Democratic policies, Jones also pledged to work with Republican Senator Richard Shelby to defend the state’s interests.
A biography steeped in the law
After earning his law degree in 1979, Jones worked as staff counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee for Alabama Senator Howell Heflin. He then worked as an assistant U.S. attorney in the early 1980s, before resigning to work in private practice. In 1997, Bill Clinton named Jones U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama. Jones left office in 2001, returning to private practice. In 2013, he co-founded his own firm, Jones & Hawley.
A victory speech calling for unity
Following his win Tuesday night, Jones emphasized messages of unity and respect, telling supporters they have shown the country “the way that we can be unified.”
“At the end of the day, this entire race has been about dignity and respect,” he said. “This campaign is about common courtesy and decency and make sure everyone in this state gets a fair share.”