What is the next step for Alabama’s soon-to-be former U.S. Sen. Doug Jones?
“I fully expect that Doug Jones will be the next United States attorney general,” said Bill Baxley, himself a former Alabama attorney general and a key piece of the church-bombing “cold case” solution that brought Jones to national attention.
Baxley had fitted many pieces of the bombing puzzle together and successfully prosecuted one of the four participants before leaving office in 1979. He was a key contributor to the success of Jones’ prosecution of two more of the Klansmen who murdered four little girls at 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963.
The two worked closely together, and Baxley remembers a significant event from 1978 that undergirds his certainty that Jones will receive the presidential appointment and subsequent Senate confirmation to head the U.S. Justice Department.
“As (Jones was) a young law student in 1978,” Baxley said, “then-Sen. Biden from Delaware came to talk at the law school.”
In the audience at Cumberland School of Law was a very attentive Jones, who was much taken with the senator’s political philosophy and straight-forward manner.
“He hung around after the speech to get a chance to talk with Biden,” Baxley said. “He must have made a good impression because they stayed in touch for all these years.”
Lessons learned by the impressionable law student from Alabama included the importance of not seeing everyone through the lens of party affiliation.
That’s one of the reasons, Baxley said, that he sees Jones as, not only the ideal nominee based on his extensive prosecutorial experience, but the person who would face the least opposition from Republican senators.
Since Jones’ loss earlier this month in his bid for reelection to the Senate seat he first won in 2017, he has been named as a top contender for the job of attorney general in several reports, including in a report by Politico after extensive interviews and, most recently, by The Guardian.
WIAT-TV in a report last week quoted lawyer Jon Saxon about Jones’ personal relationship with Biden: “I think he meets all the requirements for attorney general,” Saxon said.
Saxon has known Jones for some time, but Jones has known Biden since the 1970s. Biden even was on hand when Jones was sworn into the Senate in 2017.
“When Doug was sworn in, he wanted former Vice President Biden to be on the floor with him and that was done,” Saxon said, “which was a very significant thing.”
Saxon also said that Jones’ impressive resume as a prosecutor enhances his qualifications for the AG job.
Possibly most important, given the likelihood of continued Republican control of the upper chamber, Jones has maintained cordial relations with many Senate Republicans.
Evidence of his ability to bridge the political chasm between the nation’s major parties lies in one of his public statements during the recent campaign: “If you look at the positions I’ve got on health care, if you look at the positions I got on jobs — you should look at the support I have from the business community — I think I’m pretty mainstream.”