Doug Jones counting on Alabama's African-American voters
(WASHINGTON) — Alabama’s Democratic Senate candidate Doug Jones arrived to greet diners at Martha’s Place Buffet and Catering around lunch time on the eve of election day and found the largely African-American crowd at the Montgomery restaurant pleased he had stopped by.
Roxanna Wingard, a local school bus driver, was inside having lunch when Jones, who is facing off against Republican Roy Moore in today’s special election, came over.
“I think it was really nice for him to come in, he didn’t look over nobody,” she told ABC News Monday.
Wingard said she was voting for Jones the first chance she had and would bring a “boat load” of people with her.
“We are going to do this. We are going to win this,” Wingard said, predicting a Jones victory. “We are going to make history. It is time for a change.”
Jones has been working hard over the last few months to rally Alabama’s African-American voters like Wingard, who tend to vote Democratic. He has enjoyed support on the ground from African-American leaders such as former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick and New Jersey senator Cory Booker.
Former President Barack Obama even recorded a robocall for Jones that the campaign put to work in the final days.
“Doug Jones is a fighter for equality, for progress,” Obama says in the robocall, as first reported by CNN. “Doug will be our champion for justice. So get out and vote, Alabama.”
Many of the diners at Martha’s Monday said unequivocally they planned to vote for Jones and had seen him at other campaign events. African-American turnout will be crucial for Jones as Moore has continued to garner strong support from white, evangelical voters. Voters in more rural communities have especially stood by Moore during this tumultuous campaign, marred by sexual misconduct allegations against Moore that he denies.
Moore’s past controversial statements also haven’t helped his standing with African-American voters, who make up 26.8 percent of Alabama’s population, according to a 2016 estimate by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Although the makeup of Alabama’s electorate is uncertain, a Fox News poll released Monday showed likely white voters prefer Moore over Jones by 55-35 percent. The same poll showed 83 percent of minority voters likely to cast ballots said they would vote for Jones.
In building support for Jones, Alabama’s only congressional Democrat, Rep. Terri Sewell, criticized Roy Moore as a candidate who would “only take us backwards” if elected.
“We who have been proud Alabamians know that we have been trying to overcome our painful past, and this candidate will only take us backwards and harken us back to the days of segregation,” Sewell said on ABC News’ “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”
Kayla Moore, Roy Moore’s wife, fired back Monday at accusations her husband holds negative views of African-Americans.
“We have many friends that are black and we also fellowship with them in church and in our home,” she said as she introduced her husband at a campaign rally.
While voting in Mountain Brook, Alabama, Jones was asked about his efforts to appeal to black voters.
“It is only natural the African-American community rally behind someone who has been there for them,” Jones told reporters.
Jones then pointed to his record. A former federal prosecutor, Jones had pursued a 30-year-old case against two members of the Ku Klux Klan responsible for the infamous 1963 Civil Rights era bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham.
A middle-aged white woman who works at a car dealership in Montgomery said she was voting for Jones because he can represent everyone from Alabama and not just an extreme few.
“I think he is a good man and I think he can represent all of Alabama well,” Betty Ann Lloyd told ABC News, but added she thought a majority of Alabama voters would disagree with her.
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