News Politics

Black Voters Catapult Democrat Doug Jones to U.S. Senate

Ally Boguhn

Roy Moore, a Christian fundamentalist and longtime favorite of anti-choice activists, lost his U.S. Senate bid in one of the nation's reddest states.

Democrat Doug Jones scored a narrow victory in Tuesday’s special election against Republican Roy Moore to become the next U.S. senator representing Alabama.

A heavy underdog headed into the race against Moore, Jones won Tuesday’s election with 49.9 percent of the vote. Ninety-eight percent of Black women voted for Jones, while 93 percent of Black men voted for the Democratic candidate. Two-thirds of white voters in Alabama cast a ballot for Moore, who campaigned on stripping LGBTQ people of civil rights and outlawing abortion care.

Jones, who successfully prosecuted members of the Ku Klux Klan involved in the 1963 bombing of the Birmingham 16th Street Baptist Church that left four Black girls dead, stood in stark contrast to Moore. When Jones in August won the Democratic nomination, he referenced his work fighting white supremacists as a federal attorney and then-recent violence by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Moore, however, has pushed the racist conspiracy theory that President Barack Obama was not a natural-born citizen and suggested that the last time the United States was “great” was during slavery.

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Steve Bannon—executive chairman of white supremacist site Breitbart News—appeared at Moore’s campaign rally on the eve of the election after having backed the candidate throughout the race. Bannon has reportedly suggested that limiting voting rights to those who own property would be “not such a bad thing.”

The state of Alabama already has barriers to the ballot box, such as requiring photo identification in order to cast a ballot—a policy that disproportionately affects those with low incomes and people of color. Such laws disenfranchise those who don’t have government-issued photo IDs, because, as Rewire’s Imani Gandi has explained, they lack the funds to obtain one, don’t drive, or don’t regularly need it.

Anti-choice activist Janet Porter appeared at Moore’s rally on Monday evening, telling the crowd that the Alabama Republican accused of sexual misconduct was “one of the most honorable men [she has] ever known.”

Porter is the founder and head of Faith2Action, the anti-choice group behind the so-called fetal heartbeat legislation at the state and federal level that would effectively outlaw abortion. Porter appeared in defense of Moore throughout the campaign’s final weeks, often pointing to Moore’s opposition to abortion rights to shift the conversation away from the allegations against him.

She did the same on Monday, noting that the winner of the special election could play a key role in choosing the next justice to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court and that Moore would only support those opposed to abortion rights.

Porter said there was significant “pro-life support” behind Moore. Though some Republicans attempted to distance themselves from Moore in the wake of numerous allegations of sexual misconduct, many anti-choice activists stood firm in their support.

That support stems from Moore’s extreme platform opposing reproductive freedoms.

In a 2014 court decision upholding a child endangerment conviction of an Alabama woman who gave birth to a healthy baby that tested positive for cocaine, Moore and colleague Justice Tom Parker made “the judicial case for prosecuting women who have had abortions,” according to Rewire’s Jessica Mason Pieklo. His campaign had touted endorsements from anti-choice extremists like Matt Trewhella, who once signed onto a statement suggesting that the murder of an abortion doctor was “justifiable,” though he later removed his name from the letter.

On the campaign trail, Jones called himself “a firm believer that a woman should have the freedom to choose what happens to her own body.” He voiced his opposition to a 20-week abortion ban during a September interview, though he later noted he did support current law banning what he called “late-term procedures.”

Moore’s position on abortion rights was hardly the only extreme position he has taken. Moore has been an outspoken opponent of LGBTQ equality, and was suspended from the Alabama Supreme Court for issuing an administrative order urging judges in the state not to comply with the U.S. Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling.

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