Some professors, students think Doug Jones winning election will improve Alabama's image

Some professors, students think Doug Jones winning election will improve Alabama's image
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

After Doug Jones claimed victory by 1.5 points in the Alabama senate election on Tuesday night, people across the country were baffled by how a Democratic candidate could win a statewide election in such a deeply red state. This was the first time in 25 years that Alabama has elected a Democrat for senator. Former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Judge Roy Moore seemed like the inevitable victor after receiving the Republican nomination in September. Three days after the election, Moore has still refused to concede.

As a twice removed judge, Moore’s nomination was met with controversy. Moore was first removed from the bench in 2003 for protesting the removal of a marble monument of the Ten Commandments from the Alabama Supreme Court chambers. Moore was removed a second time in 2015 after refusing to comply with the Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage, blocking marriage licenses from being administered to same-sex couples.

After several woman came forward in recent months and accused Moore of sexual misconduct over 30 years ago, some had reservations about voting for the man, torn between their values and party loyalty. Alabama Senator Richard Shelby (R) announced that he did not vote for Moore, opting to vote for a write-in candidate instead.

Richard Fording, political science professor at the University, said that because of the importance of the balance of power in the Senate, the election received global attention. He has interviewed with news outlets from Canada, Japan and Brazil as a result.

However, Fording said that one of the main reasons for the massive attention the election gained was that Moore, to outside countries, looks like a “total nutjob.”

“Images of Moore with his cowboy hat, waving his gun, have been broadcast all over the world,” Fording said. “His many outrageous and extremist views have been extensively quoted. And of course, there were the very credible claims that he assaulted teenage girls, including a 14-year old. People across the country and the world were fascinated by the fact that Roy Moore had won the primary, and seemed on the verge of winning.”

Due to this global attention, Fording said that this election has done “a lot” to salvage Alabama’s image.

“People outside the South hold many negative stereotypes of people in Alabama,” Fording said. “If Roy Moore had won, this would have greatly reinforced those stereotypes that Alabamians are religious fanatics, racist and homophobic, and just plain ignorant. Although Doug Jones barely won, his victory will go a long way toward convincing people outside Alabama that our citizens were able to put decency and character over party.”

Louis Bubrig, a junior biology major at the University, said that he was relieved to see Moore fall short and that he hopes this will encourage both sides to put forward decent candidates.

“I think the feelings that everybody around here have are shared around the country and hopefully that will convince people in other very Republican states to put their best candidates forward and run solid campaigns,” Bubrig said.

Adam Gaerity, a sophomore double majoring in history and political science said his initial reaction to the election was “shock” and “disbelief."

“I think it’s a good sign for people who aren’t going to stand for someone like Moore but unfortunately it caused a lot of problems like here at the school and caused rifts between people, so that’s a big negative effect,” Gaerity said. “Overall I was pleased after I stopped being stupefied after they called [the race].”

Gaerity said that he thinks that Jones’ win will help to improve Alabama’s image and repair some of the damage done to it by the Moore campaign.

“I think it will definitely help Alabama’s image on a national scale and we’ll finally start looking better to other states,” Gaerity said. “Unfortunately, we’ve been put down in the past and we’re often the butt of a lot of jokes. I’m positive and we’ll see how it goes with Jones in the Senate. I’m hopeful.”

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