by Chris White
Democratic Sen. Doug Jones’ opposition to President Donald Trump’s wall is threatening to torpedo the Alabama lawmaker’s re-election bid in 2020, and Democrats in the state say he’s a “dead man walking.”
Jones, who barely defeated Republican Roy Moore during a bruising special election in 2017, finds himself in an unenviable position: opposing the president’s demands for wall-funding while representing a red state chalked with federal workers who support Trump’s immigration policies.
The moderate Democrat is testing the limits of his party’s pull in Alabama, a heavily conservative state with one of the largest groups of federal workers in the country. Voters are criticizing Jones for not only opposing Trump’s demands for wall funding, but also for putting their jobs at risk.
“I voted for Jones, I did,” Ann Lynch, a retired schoolteacher who lives near Huntsville, Alabama, where more than half of the local economy is tied to federal spending, told The New York Times. “But he doesn’t support the wall. I don’t like that, of course. I think we need it. Trump knows we need it.”
Jones is the only Senate Democrat from a red state up for re-election in 2020. He’s standing pat.
“I’m just not going to throw money at anybody who is with a gun to my head,” Jones told the NYT, referring to the president’s demand for $5.7 billion for the wall. “Let’s get the government open.”
It’s an enormous risk, as more than 5,000 workers are furloughed across the state.
Angie Gates’s family restaurant lost out on hundreds of dollars in business because a prison training program was shut down during the wall standoff.
“For us, because we’re a small town, the shutdown is kind of difficult. But there’s also things in politics that may be worth doing,” Gates said. “If Doug Jones doesn’t support the wall, I don’t support him.”
Former lawmakers in the state who also support Jones say he’s in for a rude awakening in 2020.
“He’s a dead man walking,” former Rep. Parker Griffith, a conservative Democrat who helped the senator win election, said in an interview with the NYT. “He leaned into his base, and his base is not big enough to elect him.”
Democrats believe they are winning the war — but their calculus is complicated.
Trump’s wall is winning adherents as support increased over the past year, a Jan. 13 poll published by The Washington Post shows. Nearly 42 percent of subjects say they support a wall, which is up from 34 percent in January 2018. Fifty-four percent of Americans oppose the idea, down from 63 percent in 2018. Meanwhile, the partial shutdown enters its 28th day Friday.
Democrats are banking on voters holding Trump responsible for the shutdown. More than half of Americans (53 percent) say Trump and the Republicans are at fault for the government shutdown, and 29 percent said it’s congressional Democrats’ fault. The president shows no sign of relenting.
– – –