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Alabama Lawyer Who Prosecuted Church Bombing Enters U.S. Senate Race

Ally Boguhn

"Alabama has been embarrassed enough the last few years by political leaders who have not been leaders at all,” Doug Jones told the Associated Press.

Former U.S. Attorney Doug Jones—who famously prosecuted two men responsible for the 1963 church bombing that left four young girls dead in Birmingham, Alabama—is running as a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate.

Jones on Wednesday announced he would enter the special election to replace Republican Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The seat is held by Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL), who was appointed by former Gov. Robert Bentley (R) before the governor resigned amid scandal. Republican Gov. Kay Ivey announced in April that a special election would be held for the seat, with party primaries on August 15.

“We are so divided as a state and nation that there needs to be more voices of reason who want more dialogues than monologues. We need leaders who people can talk to reason with and trust even if they don’t agree on every political issue,” Jones said in a statement to the Associated Press.

“Alabama has been embarrassed enough the last few years by political leaders who have not been leaders at all,” he said. “Instead of listening to the concerns that each of [sic] face every day, like jobs and wages, adequate and affordable health care and first rate educations for our children and grandchildren, they have played on our fears and exploited our divisions for their own self interests.”

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Jones served as a U.S. attorney from 1997 to 2001, having been appointed to the position by President Bill Clinton. During that time, he worked on the indictment of Eric Rudolph, who pleaded guilty to a series of domestic terrorist bombings, including one at a Birmingham abortion clinic in 1998.

As a U.S. attorney, Jones also led the team that successfully prosecuted two former members of the Klu Klux Klan for bombing the 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963. The bombing killed four young Black girls—Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley—and injured more than 20 other people.

Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore (R), who was suspended from that position for instructing state probate judges to deny same-sex couples marriage licenses, announced in late April that he would run in the Republican primary for Senate seat. His suspension was recently upheld by the Alabama Supreme Court. Moore has been a controversial figure throughout his judicial career: In 2015, reproductive rights advocates filed an ethics complaint alleging he had shown support for domestic terrorists by speaking at an anti-choice rally organized and attended by extremists.

Robert Kennedy Jr. has also filed paperwork to run as a Democrat in the race, according to HuffPost. Alabama Democrats know little about Kennedy—including whether he is related to the Kennedy political dynasty.

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