2017 U.S. Senate Race

Alabama has a swath of elections coming up this year, and there will be a much stronger Democratic presence on the ballot than there has been in recent statewide elections. Do you think Alabama’s moving toward being a two-party state? Are Democrats a viable party statewide?

Doug Jones speaks to the press the day after winning the race for the U.S. Senate seat. (Source: Sam Prickett)

Jones: I think you’re looking at the viability of Democrats. The viability of Democrats is not dependent on a candidate. It’s dependent on the issues and how they present those issues to the people. I’ve always believed Democrats can be viable. I’ve always believed Republicans, even when Democrats dominated the state, could have been viable with the right message. We flipped (dominant parties) too quick, and we never became a two-party state. The best way to progress as a state is to have a viable, two-party state, and that is going to involve debates on the issues people care about, the kitchen-table issues that I’ve talked so much about: economy, health care, education, those kind of things. (Don’t) let those divisive issues get us bogged down! Let’s progress.

I think the challenge right now, in 2018, is not to just field a candidate in a race, but for those candidates to stay true to who they are, to engage in the issues, and to engage with voters and try to talk and try to bring people out. If we can do that, I think that’s going to help the state.

Hopefully, some Democrats will be elected. There will be Republicans elected. But if we can make it to where our political system is based on issues that people care about on a daily basis, we’re going to skyrocket. This state has so much potential, but we are being held back because of a dominant party, be it Republican or Democrat, whose sole purpose has been to stay in office rather than to do things for the people.

Look at where we are. Republicans came into power in 2010 on an anti-corruption platform. Look what we’ve seen! We’ve had a chief justice, the governor, the speaker of the House and his deputy (removed from office). So forget that!

And the whole time that was happening, we still have the highest obesity rates, diabetes. We’re still the unhealthiest state. Our poverty is still one of the highest in the country. Nobody’s doing anything about that because they want to focus on their little gerrymandered districts. So I’m hoping that by now, people are finding their voice and can talk about the issues. We have shown, voters want to get past that, to elect candidates who can get things done and not simply sow chaos and be one extreme or the other.

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