Fighting an Uphill Senate Re-election Battle, Doug Jones Does It His Way

Mr. Jones, from deeply conservative Alabama, is the Senate’s most vulnerable Democratic incumbent. But far from tiptoeing toward re-election, he seems almost liberated by his predicament.


By Catie Edmondson

WASHINGTON — Politically endangered lawmakers about to face voters often find themselves tempering their instincts, breaking with their parties on tough votes to prove independence and placate constituents, and offering mealy-mouthed platitudes on the most divisive topics of the day.

Not Senator Doug Jones, Democrat of Alabama, considered his party’s most endangered incumbent facing re-election next week.

His first television advertisements of the year featured him using stark, stirring language to talk about the death of George Floyd, a Black man, in police custody and promote mask wearing. He voted to impeach President Trump and declared on the Senate floor that “Black lives matter.” He has blasted as “shameful” Alabama’s law criminalizing abortion in almost all cases, and suggested raising the age requirement to purchase a gun from 18 to 21.

And on Monday night, just over a week before Election Day, he joined the rest of his party in voting against Mr. Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

“These are all things a lot of people felt like wouldn’t be politically expedient for him,” said Chris England, the chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party. “I don’t think that’s necessarily something he concerns himself with.”

The odds that voters will return Mr. Jones to Washington and reject his Republican opponent, Tommy Tuberville, a former Auburn University football coach who has pledged fealty to Mr. Trump, are even more unlikely than those he beat in 2017, when he jolted the political establishment with an unexpected victory over Roy S. Moore, who was accused of sexually assaulting and pursuing teenage girls.

But instead of tiptoeing around the Senate as so many politically embattled lawmakers past and present have done, skittering away from reporters when asked about hot-button issues or giving tortured explanations of tricky votes, Mr. Jones has appeared almost liberated by his predicament.

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