Who Is Roy Moore’s Challenger Doug Jones? - NBC Chicago

Who Is Roy Moore’s Challenger Doug Jones?

Doug Jones said that his campaign strategy hasn't changed in light of the Roy Moore allegations because the issues are still the same

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    Who Is Roy Moore’s Challenger Doug Jones?
    Brynn Anderson/AP Photo
    Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a rally to campaign for Democrat Doug Jones in the race to fill Attorney General Jeff Sessions' former Senate seat on Oct. 3, 2017, in Birmingham, Ala.

    With allegations of sexual assault and misconduct piling up against Republican candidate Roy Moore, the Alabama Senate campaign has transformed into a tighter race and given Democrats hope.

    As many call for Moore to step down and Republicans scramble to find a write-in candidate to replace him, Democratic candidate Doug Jones, previously trailing in the polls, now seems to stand a chance. Jones leads Moore 46 percent to 42 percent among Alabama voters, according to a new poll by JMC Analytics. Another poll, however, which was also conducted after the sexual assault allegations against Moore, showed that he still held a four-point lead over Jones.

    "We applaud the courage of these women,” Jones said of the allegations against his opponent in a statement Monday. "Roy Moore will be held accountable by the people of Alabama for his actions."

    Moore has called the claims against him "absolutely false."

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    In a press conference Tuesday, Jones said that his campaign strategy hasn't changed in light of the allegations because the issues are still the same.

    "Our campaign has been about the people of this state," he told reporters. "It’s never been about me. It’s not about Roy Moore. It hasn’t been about any other candidate. It’s about the people of this state and what they consider to be their important, kitchen table issues."

    Many Democrats have been quiet about the Moore scandal in keeping with Jones' strategy of avoiding polarizing the race between party lines in the conservative state.

    If Jones wins the Alabama Senate seat on Dec. 12, he would put Democrats closer to controlling the Senate in 2018. 

    Jones, 63, has never run for public office. Born into a working class Alabama family of steelworkers and miners, he attended Fairfield High School during the time of Alabama's public school desegregation and went on to study government and law.

    Here are the other things to know about the Democratic candidate.

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    He was named U.S. Attorney by Bill Clinton
    After law school, Jones worked as staff counsel to the U.S Senate Judiciary Committee and then as assistant U.S. attorney in Birmingham.

    Jones was appointed U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama by former President Bill Clinton in 1997 and he was confirmed by a Republican-majority Senate. He held the position for four years before returning to private law practice.

    He has prosecuted Ku Klux Klan members and other extremists
    In his time as U.S. attorney, Jones won a conviction in 2002 for former KKK member Bobby Frank Cherry, who murdered four African-American girls in a 1963 Alabama church bombing. The bombing was a turning point in the civil rights movement.

    Jones previously convicted another former Klansman, Thomas Blanton, whose case was dormant for nearly 25 years, for his role in the bombing.

    He also spearheaded the prosecution against Eric Rudolph, who bombed a women’s health care center in Birmingham in 1998.

    According to Jones’s campaign website, civil rights issues are a priority in his campaign.

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    "Sadly, the pattern of violence as a response to hope has reasserted itself," Jones wrote in a September op-ed in Huffington Post. "We saw it in the Charleston church massacre in 2015. We saw it on display in Charlottesville this past August. We've seen it in the attacks on mosques and synagogues, and against the LGBT community. We see it in the hostility toward the Latino community. We cannot sweep this violence under the rug. We must address the forces that lead to it and prosecute those who perpetrate such acts.”

    The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute awarded Jones the 15th Anniversary Civil Rights Distinguished Service Award for his work in civil rights, according to the Public Justice Center, a legal aid office that advocates for racial equality.

    Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigned for him
    Last month, before the sexual assault and misconduct claims against Roy Moore came to light, the former vice president traveled to Alabama to campaign for Jones.

    "I can count on two hands the people I've campaigned for that have as much integrity, as much courage," Biden said of Jones, Business Insider reported.

    He also said that Jones’ prosecution of the KKK members “helped remove 40 years of stain and pain” from the state of Alabama.

    Former vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine also expressed his support for Jones, asking for donations to the campaign in a recent tweet.  

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    "When you have a person who speaks to a very unique need for healing in the country right now and is facing off against a guy who will not heal our divisions but will fan them, it’s a good race to be helpful in," Kaine told The New York Times.

    The grandson of a coal miner, Jones supports the Paris climate accord
    "I want to be perfectly clear: I believe in science," Jones wrote on his website.

    He said he supports the Paris climate agreement and that the impact of fossil fuel use on the planet is clear.

    But as the son of a steelworker and the grandson of a coal miner, Jones has "enormous sympathy with the families in our state that have seen their incomes decline or their jobs vanish as coal prices have dropped," he said, adding that America needs to step up its job retraining and health care for these workers.

    He opposes efforts to repeal "Obamacare"
    Jones said on his website that while the Affordable Care Act "needs improvement," he is "disturbed about repeated efforts to repeal the bill or weaken it, leaving as many as 32 million more Americans without insurance, driving up rates for others and likely leading to the closure of more rural health care facilities vital in many regions of Alabama."

    Jones has said he wants to lower health care premiums and out-of-pocket costs.

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    He has also called for more funding for education, saying “it is unconscionable to talk about lowering taxes on the wealthy while cutting funding for education, nutrition, child care, housing, and infrastructure.”