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Democratic Prosecutor of Alabama Church Bombing Scores Decisive Victory in Special Election Primary

Ally Boguhn

“Fifteen years ago, I actually went up against the Klan and we won,” Democrat Doug Jones said Tuesday night during his victory speech. “It took a long time to put those guys in jail ... I thought we had kind of gotten past that.”

Alabama Democrat Doug Jones, a former U.S. attorney who prosecuted the white supremacists behind a Civil Rights-era church bombing and led the team who indicted an abortion clinic bomber, advanced to the December general election for a seat in the U.S. Senate Tuesday after a decisive victory.

As of Wednesday morning, Jones had won 66.1 percent of votes, 109,105 votes in total, according to unofficial election results posted by the Alabama Secretary of State’s office—clearing the 50 percent majority threshold needed to advance to the December 12 special general election without contesting a runoff race to determine the party’s nomination.

In an election night victory speech, Jones referenced his work as a federal attorney and the recent white supremacist actions in Charlottesville, Virginia. He successfully led the prosecution in 2001 of two former members of the Ku Klux Klan who bombed the Birmingham 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963, which left four young Black girls dead. 

“All my life I have been trying to work for folks to make sure people have equal opportunity and are treated fairly, they are treated the same under the law, they are treated with dignity and respect,” he said, according to a report from Courthouse News. “You know in the last couple of days we have seen all that tested. Fifteen years ago, I actually went up against the Klan and we won. It took a long time to put those guys in jail and let me tell you something, I thought we had kind of gotten past that, but we obviously haven’t, and we’ve got a lot of work to do and I think that the crowds we are seeing and the solidarity with the people of Charlottesville shows that.”

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As a U.S. attorney, Jones also 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.

Robert Kennedy Jr., came in second in the primary, with just under 18 percent of votes. Several polls had shown Kennedy leading the pack of Democrats just prior to election day.

Republicans failed to rally enough votes behind a single candidate to stop a runoff election. Sen. Luther Strange, who was temporarily appointed to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Senate seat earlier this year, received 32.8 percent of votes. Roy Moore, a former chief justice on the Alabama Supreme Court, led the pack with 38.9 percent of votes. 

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