Former Vice President Joe Biden predicted Tuesday that Alabama’s Democratic Senate nominee Doug Jones will pull off an unlikely upset victory in December and “send ripples throughout the country.”
Democrats are hoping that conditions might be right to pull off a win in deep-red Alabama, and Biden was the first major Democratic Party star to head to the state to campaign for Jones, a former US attorney and a longtime friend of Biden’s. Jones is set to face off with controversial former Alabama state supreme court chief Justice Roy Moore, who secured the Republican nomination for the US Senate seat last month.
“When he wins this race it will send ripples throughout the country,” Biden said to loud cheers. “But don’t do it for that reason. Do it for Alabama.”
“I can count on two hands the people I’ve campaigned for that have as much integrity, as much courage,” he later said of Jones, adding that he “helped remove 40 years of stain and pain from this state” with his prosecution of Ku Klux Klan members who bombed a black church and killed four young girls in 1963.
Biden, who called Moore an “extremist,” added that “this state has changed.”
“Doug said, ‘no more,'” he continued. “The Klan needed to know that justice would follow them to the gates of hell if need be.”
In his own speech, Jones proclaimed that he is “on the right side of history.”
“They have told me time and again that this race is a long shot,” Jones said. “Well, folks … When you are on the right side of history and the right side of justice you can do anything.”
Some recent polls have shown a tight race between Moore and Jones. One survey from Decision Desk HQ found Jones trailing Moore by roughly five points while a Tuesday JMC Analytics poll found Jones trailing by eight points. But in an Emerson College poll prior to Moore’s primary victory over Republican Sen. Luther Strange, the former chief justice held a more than 20-point lead.
As a result, national organizations are waiting to determine just how heavily they want to deploy resources. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is “closely monitoring the race,” an official told Business Insider. The organization is “in ongoing communication or working closely with the Doug Jones campaign,” in addition to “providing strategic staffing and communications support.”
The Democratic National Committee, on the other hand, has shared its voter file with Jones and is assisting him with staffing, The Washington Post reported.
But Democrats who spoke with Business Insider say certain questions need to be answered before they deploy further resources. That includes figuring out why attacks against Moore from Republicans did not work. Strange, with the backing of the GOP establishment, outspent Moore by a 15-to-1 margin. Yet even as President Donald Trump rallied for and endorsed Strange, Moore was able to cruise to a substantial victory.
“I mean, special elections are when surprises happen,” Zac McCrary, a pollster for ALG Research and a former communications director for the Alabama Democratic Party, told Business Insider.
“Doug Jones is an underdog, Scott Brown was an underdog in the Senate race in Massachusetts in 2009. John Bel Edwards, now the governor of Louisiana, was an underdog most of that campaign. … So I do think there are several factors that make this have the real potential to have a genuinely competitive race, which runs counter to some of the expectation.”