Last week, former Auburn University football coach and current Republican frontrunner, Tommy Tuberville tweeted the following, “Doug Jones may claim to be a ‘moderate’ Democrat, but he’s just another liberal Dem. It’s critical we replace him with a proud conservative who truly represents AL values and I’m ready to be that leader. Can you donate today and help defeat Doug Jones?”
Considering how partisanship has become the sacred scripture of the current political era, it is considered conventional wisdom now to attack your opponent by framing him or her as a stereotypical caricature of the political party they are a member of. For example, if you are a Republican running against a Democrat, you may attack him or her as “too liberal,” “far left,” “a Socialist,” or “a puppet of Chuck Schumer”. If you are a Democrat, you may attack your opponent as, “far-right,” “too extreme,” “a puppet of President Trump,” etc.
In light of these political tactics, we must be objective when judging the political views of a candidate. If they are currently serving in the United States Senate, there is no better way to judge them than by their voting record. So, let’s put Mr. Tuberville’s statement to the test. Is Senator Doug Jones just another liberal Democrat? Let’s look at his voting record.
Back in September, Quorum Analytics released a report that ranked Senator Jones as one of the most bipartisan members of the US Senate. The first vote that Senator Jones cast was for a Republican-backed CR to avoid a government shutdown amid the fight between President Trump and congressional Democrats over the fate of Dreamers, children who were brought to the country illegally through no fault of their own.
Senator Jones also voted to confirm President Trump’s nominees for Secretary of State (former Congressman and Director of the C.I.A. Mike Pompeo), Secretary of the V.A. (Robert Wilkie), Attorney General, (William Barr, the former Attorney General under President George H.W. Bush), Secretary of Defense (Mark Esper), and Secretary of Health and Human Services (Alex Azar, former President of the U.S. division of Eli Lilly and Company, a major pharmaceutical company).
Senator Jones voted to roll back some regulations of the Dodd-Frank Act and expand private healthcare options for veterans. He has also refused to support populist progressive policies like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal that are backed by his Senate colleague and 2020 presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont).
However, Senator Jones’ record has not always aligned with President Trump. Following Mike Pompeo’s confirmation as Secretary of State, he voted against the President’s nominees for Director of the C.I.A. (Gina Haspel), Secretary of Labor (Eugene Scalia, the son of former Supreme Court Justice, Antonin Scalia), Secretary of Interior (David Bernhardt, a former oil lobbyist and Solicitor of the Department of the Interior under President George W. Bush), and Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist).
He also voted to restore net neutrality rules, end assistance to Saudi Arabia in Yemen, keep abortion procedures after 20 weeks legal, and he has been a fierce critic of President Trump’s tariff policy with China. He stated, “I think Alabama is not just in a unique position, but we are in a very vulnerable position with both manufacturing and farming, we cannot overlook the impact that this is having on farmers up and down the state from one end to another”. But the two most crucial votes that Senator Jones has cast is arguably for President Trump’s criminal justice reform bill (The First Step Act) and against the confirmation of current Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Other votes that Senator Jones has cast include a yes on overturning President Trump’s national emergency declaration for funding the wall, a yes on a bipartisan immigration proposal, a yes on disapproving of President Trump’s withdrawal of troops from Syria, a yes on providing disaster relief to Puerto Rico, approving of requirements for care of infants born after failed abortions, disapproving of President Trump’s proposal to lift sanctions on three Russian companies, a no on prohibiting federal funds from being used for abortion procedures, a yes on providing humanitarian aid to the US-Mexico border, and a yes on overriding President Trump’s veto of a bill that would block the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia.
Senator Jones has co-sponsored a bipartisan bill to improve access to rural healthcare for new and expecting mothers and introduced the Rural Health Liaison Act, which his office has stated will improve the coordination of federal resources and expand health care access for rural Americans. This legislation became part of the 2018 Farm Bill that was passed and signed into law by President Trump. He also introduced legislation to eliminate the Military Widows Tax and along with Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), introduced the Civil Rights Cold Case Records Collection Act. Both pieces of legislation were signed into law by President Trump.
Therefore, while we can definitely classify Senator Jones as someone who is of moderately liberal persuasion, he has proven himself to be an independent voice who prefers the pragmatic approach of reaching across the aisle to his Republican colleagues and getting things done. He has voted to confirm a handful of the President’s nominees and he has voted in favor of some of President’s legislative priorities. At the same time, he has proven himself to be unafraid to stand up to the President when he feels like the President’s position or nominee hurts the state of Alabama. His refusal to back progressive policy proposals like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal clearly puts him in the more moderate camp of the Democratic Party. Since we have discovered Senator Jones to be a bipartisan dealmaker in the Senate, we can safely say that he isn’t just “another liberal Democrat” as Mr. Tuberville claims. But will his bipartisan credentials be enough to give him a full term in the Senate? We will see on Election Day.