Jones mobilizes black voters to face Moore –

Jones mobilizes black voters to face Moore


SELMA, Ala. – Doug Jones' search for votes led him to the Edmund Pettus Bridge and Selma's annual Christmas parade, seeking to energize his most important block of supporters in the Alabama Senate's special election: African-Americans.

Jones' visit to a milestone in the civil rights movement summed up his strategy in the final days of the Alabama race. Jones simply can not win without the flood of African-American voters at the polls on December 12, when he faces Republican Roy Moore plagued by scandals and hopes to become the first Democrat in years to win a state race in Alabama. Participation in the unusual special elections is uncertain and there are fewer traditional voters available here than in other states, which gives more importance to the Democratic base.

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Jones relies on his own civil rights record as a federal prosecutor and emphasizes education to maximize the support of black voters. But the years of Democratic losses have weakened voter interest and atrophied the state party, which is also divided by the conflict between the different factions that remain. That has forced Jones to build a coalition almost from scratch in recent months, which has led some to criticize Jones for starting too late.

"Doug's challenge – which most Democrats have – is that there is no infrastructure party … to organize the participation of voters other than the local Democratic parties," said Mark Kennedy, former president of the Democratic Party of Alabama. "Then, unfortunately, Doug is probably alone when it comes to election day."

Recent polls have emphasized the importance of the black vote. The latest Washington Post poll showed Jones with a narrow 3-point lead over Moore and an electorate that was more than a quarter African-American. The previous survey last week, an automated survey of Emerson College, showed African Americans only 17 percent of the sample and Moore increased by 6 points.

That's why Jones spent many days before December 12 in the same way he did in Selma on Saturday: shaking hands, kissing babies and hugging as many voters as possible in a predominantly African-American crowd. The night before, Jones held a fried fish in a church in Montgomery and delivered a well-practiced speech on the importance of health care and economics, as well as his prosecution of the Ku Klux Klansmen that years before had bombarded the Baptist Church of the 16th Street in Birmingham in 1963, and a tribute to civil rights icon Rosa Parks.

"I am especially excited to end this day, December 1, in Montgomery, Alabama," Jones told the crowd. "The place where the civil rights movement really started with a heroic seamstress who did not give up her seat, and Rosa Parks not only changed Montgomery, changed to Alabama, changed the country, changed the world, it started here, I'm very honored and honored to have played a role in the saga of civil rights, if you will, many years after the fact. "

Jones' reach has recently reached peak performance, according to African-American leaders in the state. The Jones campaign had to overcome the disputes and competition between the Alabama Democratic Party and other Democratic groups, including the Alabama New South Coalition and the Alabama Democratic Conference, when it was organized this fall. Last month's accusations of badual misconduct against Moore also gave a new urgency to what had previously been seen as a lengthy campaign for Jones.

"At first I was very concerned that very little effort was made to organize and mobilize the black vote," said Alabama State Senator Hank Sanders. "But there are certainly more efforts in the last week."

Faya Rose Touré, the main activist of the Alabama New South Coalition, said she led the efforts of her team as part of her "Vote or Die" campaign to focus on the "Black Belt" region of Alabama in the latest weeks of the campaign. Alabama's black vote is concentrated in its larger cities, but there is also considerable participation in smaller counties such as Selma, which is two-thirds of African-Americans.

"At the last minute we had a situation where there were hardly any resources in the Black Belt for the Doug Jones campaign and now two weeks before they put the resources here," Toure said, adding that now the Democrats are finally They have come to help. "They do have people on the ground here." But it is so limited. "

Jones has largely avoided the help of the national Democrats, preferring to keep elections over Moore and avoid the possibilities of linking him with Washington's liberals. Sometimes with Representative John Lewis of Georgia, the civil rights icon, former South Carolina state representative Bakari Sellers, another African-American Democrat from the south, flew in to introduce Jones to his recent Montgomery fish fry.

Jones has removed a key obstacle with voters: Lavernia Willoughby, a parade badistant at Selma, said she believes the Democrat can defeat Moore – stronger than usual voting numbers for Jones and Moore's misconduct allegations they have inspired hope in some black voters that they could help a candidate win all over the state for the first time in years.

"Everything you have What we do is vote, "said Willoughby, adding that Jones" needs everyone to vote for him. " He needs everyone to vote for him. "

But not all of Saturday's black supporters were so optimistic Chevonne Norfleet said he plans to back Jones, but he paused and acknowledged concerns about Jones' chances when he was standing in front of a barbershop.

"Maybe in the black people's eye," said Norfleet. "It's a republican state."

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