Fresh off the heels of a surprising campaign win, Alabama's new senator-elect has taken the spotlight from his political rival Roy Moore. And while the two men have incredibly different political leanings, the two share at least one thing in common. Both Moore and Doug Jones went to school at the University of Alabama.
Jones grew up in Alabama, raised by a homemaker mother and a steelworker father, according to his website. After high school, he graduated from Alabama with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science in 1976 and earned his Juris Doctor from Samford University in 1979. Meanwhile, Moore attended the United States Military Academy and went to law school at the University of Alabama.
It was during his time at college that Jones first became engaged in politics — "I also found a love for politics and organizing," he says on his website. "Through volunteering — campus affairs at Alabama, a statewide campaign to modernize Alabama's court system, and Young Democrats — the power of one, determined young person became clear to me."
In a special election held Tuesday, Jones claimed a shocking victory in Alabama, a typically conservative state. Moore had been besieged by controversy in the weeks leading up to the election, and has still yet to admit defeat, suggesting he might call for a recount. In addition to winning the popular vote overall, Jones ultimately beat Moore among younger voters, including in the county in which they both attended college (a county President Trump won in 2016). Moore, meanwhile, won only among older voters.
In an interview, Jones admitted that his grades at Alabama "weren't that great" and, to incentivize him to work harder, his father encouraged him to work at a steel mill during breaks from college. An accident at the steel mill ultimately encouraged him to take school more seriously. He began serving in the student senate and, after college, he went on to law school.
It was at law school that his passions began to flourish, with Jones taking a keen interest in a high-profile case that would ultimately define his legal career. At the time, then-Alabama Attorney General Bill Baxley was prosecuting a Ku Klux Klan member accused of bombing the state's 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963. Ultimately, Baxley was successful and years later, Jones successfully prosecuted other co-conspirators in the bombing.
Interestingly, the University of Alabama featured prominently in a recent campaign rally for Moore, in which Steve Bannon, the former campaign strategist to Donald Trump, made fun of the school. While stumping for Moore the night before the election in Alabama, Bannon mocked MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, telling the crowd he went to much better schools than the media personality. The issue, however, is that Scarborough, like Moore and Jones, is an Alabama alum.
The regional love for the school's athletic program may have played a role in Jones' ultimate victory. In the days leading up to the election, one liberal group ran a Facebook ad encouraging Republicans to write in Nick Saban, the coach of the University of Alabama's football team. As Newsweek has noted, write-in votes — which numbered nearly 23,000 — ultimately had a major impact on the race. In a tweet congratulating Jones for his victory, President Trump also argued that write-in votes "played a very big factor."
Either way, Jones was victorious in his campaign for Senate, leaving many on Twitter to tweet their approval with a nod to Jones' alma mater. And apparently, a love for the school runs in the family — according to his campaign website, Jones' youngest son attends the University of Alabama, where he is currently a sophomore, and his daughter is currently working on her Ph.D. there.