Alabama Democratic Senate nominee Doug Jones is surging in the polls as embattled Republican Roy Moore fights back allegations he pursued romantic relationships with teenage girls in his thirties.
But as Jones works to woo Republicans who have grown uncomfortable with Moore, the former U.S. attorney isn’t shying away from liberal stances on issues that could alienate some culturally conservative voters he needs to win over in the Deep South state.
That could cause problems for the Democrat in consolidating support ahead of next month’s special election, as Republicans ramp up efforts to advertise Jones’ views on these issues.
“Jones very clearly stakes out an extreme position on what many see as a definitive life or death issue,” conservative writer Matt Lewis said of Jones’ position on abortion. “What is more, it is a threshold issue for the very kinds of voters who might see Roy Moore’s behavior as unacceptable.”
During a September interview on MSNBC, Jones told anchor Chuck Todd he supports women having “access to the abortion that they might need” and said he opposes a 20 week abortion ban.
“I’m not in favor of anything that is going to infringe on woman’s right and her freedom to choose,” Jones told Todd.
As the Moore campaign tries to move past the allegations that have crippled his campaign over the last week, they are emphasizing Jones’ stances on these divisive cultural issues. The candidate’s wife, Kayla Moore, ticked off a list of liberal stances during a Friday speech with supporters in Montgomery.
“Our opponent -- who is an ultra-liberal, who was an Obama delegate, who is for full-term abortions, who is for more gun restrictions, who is for transgender bathrooms, who is for transgender [people] in the military -- is against everything we in Alabama believe and stand for,” she said.
Some Democrats, though, say Jones should welcome that debate.
“If Roy Moore is talking about who can go into which bathroom and which members of our military shouldn’t be allowed to serve, while Doug Jones is talking about jobs and health care – I think that is a debate Doug Jones will win,” said Zac McCrary, a national Democratic pollster based in Alabama.
During that September interview, Jones expressed support for gun control measures, including increased background checks for gun purchases.
"I think that is a debate Doug Jones will win"
“I’m a Second Amendment guy, I love to hunt, I got a gun case full of guns, but I also want to make sure we’re smart and we’re solid on those issues,” he said.
He also said he would’ve voted against confirming Jeff Sessions for Attorney General. Sessions, a Republican who vacated the Senate seat Jones is running for to join the Trump administration, remains popular in Alabama.
Alabama hasn’t elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1992. But a Fox News poll taken in the wake of the Moore allegations and released Thursday shows Jones leading Moore 50 percent to 42 percent.
"Doug Jones is proud to have support from Alabamians in every corner of the state,” the Jones campaign said in a statement to Fox News on Friday. “Our momentum is growing every day because Doug is focused on bringing people together to fix our broken health care system, improve our schools and strengthen Alabama's economy."