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Senator Doug Jones trying to block Tuberville blitz in final days of campaign

Published: Oct. 29, 2020 at 9:59 AM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - One of the hottest Senate races in the country is nearing the finish line. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) is trying to fend off a Republican blitz from former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville.

“This is about Alabama. This is not about a national race. It’s about the state of Alabama and the people of Alabama,” said Jones.

Jones is clinging to his seat after winning a special election in 2017, held after Jeff Sessions joined the Trump administration as U.S. Attorney General. Alabama is a state that heavily favors President Donald Trump, but Jones is on a mission to beat the odds once again.

“There are people that support the president that are not going to support the Republican nominee. Because they know that I’ve been working on those kitchen table issues. I’ve been working to protect their health care. And the president might not be doing that,” said Jones.

But his opponent this time around is not drowning in a serious scandal like Judge Roy Moore was in 2017. This year it is a former football coach with statewide name recognition. We requested an interview with Tuberville, but his campaign said, “We are going to pass.” Besides that pass play, Coach Tuberville is keeping the rest of his playbook to himself, so we do not know what a U.S. Senator Tuberville would bring to the table if elected. But he is an ardent supporter of President Trump, and the Trump campaign says the feeling is mutual.

“These kinds of fresh, accomplished, outsider people, like Coach Tuberville, to me are really refreshing and likely to have great impact once he is elected to the United States Senate,” said Steve Cortes, senior strategic advisor for Trump 2020.

The political outsider resonates with Alabamians who overwhelmingly voted one into the White House in 2016. University of Alabama political science expert Joe Smith says policy is not necessarily what is going to win this election.

“If you’re a Republican and you have President Trump’s endorsement in Alabama...really those two factors determine the general election,” said Smith.

Smith says it is an uphill battle for Jones with polls showing a comfortable Tuberville lead. He thinks if Jones wants to sway voters in the GOP hotbed, he will need to focus on being a moderate lawmaker and a competent leader in the race’s waning hours.

But Smith argues regardless of policies, or lack thereof, simply having an “R” next to his name on the ballot is likely to hand Tuberville a victory.

“The Democrats are not optimistic about keeping this seat and I think they’ve kind of priced that in as they think about how to approach trying to get a majority in the Senate,” said Smith.

Election day is November third.

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