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Alabama Goes Blue Shocker

Crimson Alabama Goes “Blue” Rejecting Sexual Harasser Roy Moore—Congratulations Doug Jones! December 14, 2017

Remember Demagogue Donald’s repeated boast on the campaign trail about winning? Look at his 5/26/2016 rally in Billings, MT. At that campaign appearance, blustering Donald declared, “We’re going to win so much, you’re going to be sick and tired of winning… you’re going to come to me and go ‘Please, please, we can’t win anymore… It’s too much. It’s not fair to everybody else.’” Trump then added, “And I’m going to say ‘I’m sorry, but we’re going to keep winning, winning, winning (Lutey, @billingsgazette.com, 5/26/16).’” Hey, Donald, how is “winning” going for you? In the era of Trump, Democrats have won big in governors’ races in VA and NJ. They have won mayors’ races, city council contests, school board seats, county clerkships, and other local offices all over the country, including in deeply “Red” areas. In the era of Trump, Democrats have flipped at least 32 former GOP state legislative seats in NH, NY, NJ, VA, WA, and OK. If Democrats win several recount races in VA, that number may increase and control of that state’s House of Delegates chamber may go to “Team Blue (seeshareblue.com, 11/10/17).”

The biggest “Red” to “Blue” flip, frankly, political earthquake, occurred on 12/12/2017. Democrat Doug Jones (63) then beat Republican Roy Moore (70) in an Alabama special election for a U.S. Senate seat. That election was held to replace former GOP Sen. Jeff Sessions who Trump had picked to head the Justice Department. Jones won this contest, 49.9%- 48.4%, a 1.5 percentage margin, or by just more than 20,000 votes. An additional 22,819 votes went to write-ins (NY Times, AL Senate Election Results, 12/12/17, NY Times, Stevens, 12/13/17). However, to quote former basketball coach Phil Jackson, a “W” is a “W”, or a “win is a win,” no matter how big or small. Once again, every vote counts. This election nail-biter still constitutes one “y uu ge” upset. Why? It occurred in Alabama, often called the “Heart of Dixie.” Alabama, remember, was where the Confederacy established its first capital, Montgomery. Alabama was the home of “segregation now and forever” Gov. George Wallace. In 1965, peaceful black and white demonstrators for voting rights were brutally beaten by Sheriff Jim Clark’s troops on Selma AL’s Edmund Pettus Bridge. Civil rights activist, now Atlanta, GA Dem. Cong. John Lewis, suffered a fractured skull during that bloody confrontation (Barone 14 Political Almanac). Alabama was a key linchpin in Nixon’s Southern Strategy. Under Nixon and subsequent GOP presidents, Southern white conservatives, formerly Democrats, were encouraged to vote GOP because Democrats had passed the 1964 and 1965 Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts “favoring” blacks. As a result, the South became solid “Red” and now constitutes the GOP’s presidential and congressional base. Alabama last elected a Democratic Senator in 1992, when Richard Shelby won re-election, two years before he switched to the GOP. Jones’ win was also the first statewide Democratic victory since Lucy Baxley narrowly won a seat on the Public Service Commission in 2008 (Daily Kos Elections, 12/13/17). Since 1972, AL has only voted for a Democratic presidential candidate once, in 1976 for Southerner Jimmy Carter. In 2016, Donald clobbered Hillary in the Yellowhammer/Cotton State by 27.7 points, 62.1%-34.4% (NY Times, 8/01/17).

How did underdog Dem. Jones win? In a state where any GOP candidate starts with big headwinds at his/her back, the race is the Republican’s to lose. And in Roy Moore’s case, he sure did. Moore was one wild uncontrollable controversial candidate from the get-go. He had twice been removed from the AL Supreme Court, first for resisting an order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from that court’s building, and the second time, for his ordering state judges not to abide by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage (Wash. Post, Balz, 12/09/17). During his Senate campaign, he called Native Americans and Asians “reds and yellows.” He railed against “sodomy” by gays. He attacked Democratic donor George Soros, a Hungarian Jewish Holocaust survivor, as someone who would not go to Heaven along with others who did not believe in God. Translation: Jews, who do not believe in Jesus, are destined for Hell. On the eve of the election, Moore’s wife, Kayla, defended him against anti-Semitic charges. In remarks written for her, she said that was not possible because “one of our attorneys is a Jew (latimes.com, Finnegan,12/12/17).” If Moore hired a Jewish attorney to do a business transaction for him, he can’t be a bigot? Get real! Moore also was quoted as telling a right-wing ME talk show host that getting rid of the Constitutional amendments that followed the 10th Amendment, including abolishing slavery and letting the people directly elect Senators, would have “eliminated many problems” in the way the U.S. government was structured (CNN, Kaczynski, 12/10/17). Even Justices Scalia and his successor Gorsuch don’t buy such nonsense.

In most other states, making such comments and having such a controversial career would have been fatal to getting a Senate nomination. Had such a candidate somehow slipped by in other states, he/she would have lost a general election in a “humungous” landslide. However, in “Red” far right AL with its racially polarized history, what finally narrowly tipped the election to Jones was more Alabamians not wanting to send a pervert to the Senate. As we all know, several women came forward to accuse Moore of sexually abusing them when they were in their teens. Moore tried to attack their credibility and denied the allegations. Fellow sexually accused abuser Donald campaigned for Moore in this special election. Trump said that Moore’s denial was enough for him. In Trump’s book and among many AL “religious” conservative voters, such attacks were false or did not matter. All that counted was electing someone to pass regressive tax cuts and attack Obamacare, not the candidate’s character. It was “party over country.” However, these sexual allegations were just enough to deny Moore a victory. Exit polls showed that 51% of Alabamians believed these allegations were true, v. 44% who thought them false (CNN12/13/17).

Many white Alabamians, who for years had been led by FOX, Rush, and their ilk to believe that Democrats were pure “evil,” voted for write-ins. Other voters who cast ballots for Donald one year ago were unwilling to show up for Moore. In some counties, such as Houston in south AL and Limestone in north AL, Moore pulled in roughly half the votes Trump got in 2016. Statewide, Moore underperformed Trump with about 640,000 votes to Trump’s 1.3 million (AL.Com, 12/12/17). As in the 11/07/2017 VA governor’s race, highly educated and high-income voters, who often supported GOPers, rejected the Trump-Bannon-Moore hard edged politics. GOP “country-club” suburban voters joined black voters in AL’s cities, Birmingham, Montgomery, and NASA-driven Huntsville to give Jones victory. The wealthy enclaves of Birmingham gave Jones 68% of the vote and Huntsville gave him 57% of their vote (NY Times, Martin & Burns, 12/13/17). Democrats had struggled for years under Obama to get out the black vote in off-year elections. Jones knew that robust African-American turnout was crucial to victory, since whites vote normally 4:1 for the GOP. Jones poured resources into black outreach. He got NJ Dem. Sen. Cory Booker and former MA Gov. Deval Patrick to campaign for him, as well as well as former basketball star Charles Barkley. Obama made a robocall for Jones (Blake, Wash. Post, 12/12/17). Blacks turned out in about the same numbers they had when Obama ran in 2008 and 2012. Exit polls showed that 28% of the electorate was black, higher than the state’s 27% black population (Blake, 12/12/17). Jones had to do this quietly “under the radar,” because emphasizing black outreach often caused whites to turn out more for the GOP in opposition.

Jones was raised in Fairfield, AL a Birmingham suburb. His father worked in a steel mill and his family supported segregationist demagogue George Wallace. Jones took a different path. When his school was integrated, he befriended black students. After graduating from the Univ. of AL., he obtained his law degree from Cumberland University in Birmingham. He cut law school classes to watch AL Attorney General Bill Baxley convict one of the Klansmen for helping to plan the killing of four young black girls in the 16th Street Baptist Church 1963 Birmingham bombing (NY Times, Burns & Robertson, 12/12/17). After law school, Jones worked for moderate Dem. U.S. Sen. Howell Heflin. Jones then became a federal prosecutor, followed by a career as a defense attorney. After Bill Clinton’s 1996 re-election, Jones became the U.S. Atty. for AL’s Northern District (NY Times, Burns et al). He prosecuted white supremacist Eric Rudolph for a 1998 abortion clinic bombing and convicted the remaining KKKers for the 1963 “Birmingham Sunday” church killings. Jones made sure this record was well known in the black community. Jones is a hunter and pro-gun rights. However, he is pro-choice and pro-gay rights, very courageous stands to take in AL. He campaigned on working across the political aisle. He stood for job training, more spending on schools and for reducing incarceration of non-violent felons. He is for Obamacare (LA Times, Finnegan, 12/12/17). He will probably be a moderate-conservative Dem., like W. VA’s Joe Manchin, but will join most Democrats on the key issues (See LA Times).

Demagogue Donald is now a three- time loser. He backed Confederate-loving Ed Gillespie for Gov. of VA, appointed AL Sen. Luther Strange who lost the primary to Roy Moore, and AL general election candidate Roy Moore. The GOP has formed a circular firing squad and is currently howling about who “lost AL”-- Donald, “alt-right/alt-wrong” ex-Trump advisor Steve Bannon, or “establishment” GOP Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. When Democrat Jones is sworn in, probably, in 1/2018, “Team Red” will have an extremely tenuous 51-49 grip on the Senate. Republicans will then only be able to lose 2 votes. A loss of 2 votes will keep VP Pence from breaking Senate ties, not the 3 now needed on major legislative issues. Unfortunately, GOPers, despite Democratic objections, will probably be able to rush their top 1% tax cut scam through before Jones will be able to vote (See shareblue.com, Chapman, 12/13/17). With Jones’ victory, Democrats will have a better chance of taking the Senate back in 2018. Still, it will be tough. They need to flip two seats but must defend 10 in states Trump won. However, anti-Trumpism is strong and the Democratic base is more enthusiastic. Even in ultra- “Red” AL, exit polls in the Jones-Moore race were closely split between approval and disapproval of Donald (LA Times, Decker, 12/13/17).

In concluding, I could not help but celebrate our AL victory by penning this song based on Stephen Foster’s famous “Oh! Susanna.” Please sing along and enjoy.

Oh, I come from Alabama with the Ten Commandments on my knee!

And I hoped to meet Old Donald in Washington, D.C.

Oh, teenage Susanna, oh please do cry for me!

For I come from Alabama and ain’t going to D.C.

It rained for months and on the day I left with FOX and GOP lies,

But the truth was so hot I froze to death, and lost that Senate prize.

Oh, teenage Susanna, oh please do cry for me!

For I come from Alabama and ain’t going to D.C.