Doug Jones’ victory over Roy Moore on Tuesday night elated Democrats across the country, and not just those Democrats passionately opposed to the election of child predators. With what will only be a two-vote margin in the upper chamber after Jones is seated, Republicans will have a much more difficult job passing their agenda next year. Moreover, with prime pickup opportunities in Nevada and Arizona, Democrats’ odds of recapturing the Senate are suddenly pretty good. There’s also a potentially bigger development here, and one that might sound a little crazy: Doug Jones should consider running for president.
At first glance, the idea of Doug Jones seeking the Democratic nomination in 2020 is absurd. This was his first serious political race; he has no national experience; he was almost completely unknown six months ago; the election he won was extremely unique. But during a time in which career politicians are lucky to be merely disliked, Jones’ biography has much to offer. A former United States attorney appointed by President Bill Clinton, Jones prosecuted several high-profile cases, including the anti-abortion terrorist Eric Rudolph. Even more notably, he led the effort to try two of the (Klans)men behind the infamous 1963 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama. This background doesn’t necessarily suggest that Jones would be a skilled campaigner and politician, but the race he just ran was extremely impressive. He managed to find the right balance between keeping national Democrats at a distance and using certain surrogates in the closing days of the campaign to motivate the Democratic base; he attacked Moore with gusto and skill in a way that Democrats sometimes have trouble doing when facing their Republican adversaries; and as his election night speech conveyed, he showed himself at ease onstage, nicely balancing toughness and affability.