Battle for the Senate: Alabama
Losing this seat would make it much harder to build a pro-environmental majority.
By all accounts, Doug Jones is the most endangered incumbent Democratic Senators. He won in something of a fluke in a special election, after reports surfaced that his opponent had stalked teenage girls. Now he faces a tough reelection battle. If he loses, it becomes that much more difficult to slip enough seats for a pro-environmental Senate majority. His opponent is Tommy Tuberville, a popular football coach.
Doug Jones. Jones has an 82% lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters (86% for 2019). His campaign website does not have tabs for energy and environment. His Senate website briefly mentions them.
The Senate website says that “climate change is a scientific reality, and it is important to work with other nations to promote business practices that are environmentally friendly without burdening them with unnecessary and expensive regulations.” It also mentions Alabama’s participation in producing biofuels and electric buses. The website also speaks of Alabama’s natural beauty and Jones’s co-sponsorship of the legislation permanently authorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).
My guess is that there’s little political gain for Jones in highlighting his support for the environment, which is why he soft-pedals it.
Tommy Tuberville. Tuberville won the primary due to fervent support by Donald Trump. He beat out former Attorney General (and former Alabama Senator) Jeff Sessions, who had earned Trump’s ire. His webpage focuses on the familiar Trump themes of lower taxes, gun rights, immigration restrictions, abortion bans, and investigating the perfidious Democrats who investigated Trump. There’s nothing about energy or environment.
What little we know about Tuberville’s environmental views is not good. In a Tweet, Tuberville denounced students who demonstrated on behalf of climate action at an Ivy League football game: “Make no mistake about it, this is a result of liberal academia indoctrinating our kids. I guarantee you one thing, this would have never occurred when I was a head coach.” In a radio interview, he said that his first thought about climate is that “there is one person that changes climate in this country and that is God.”
Essentially, Tuberville’s political platform comes down to two words: Donald Trump. As Alabama political scientist Robert Blanton put it, “His message was, and continues to be, unwavering support for everything associated with Trump. He has put forth no major policy recommendations and is not attempting to distinguish himself in any issue other than his status as a political outsider.” This could well be a winning strategy in a state where Trump remains popular.
So there you have it: a mainstream Democrat versus a Trump cheerleader. An upset by Jones would boost the chances for Democratic control of the Senate. National Democrats definitely aren’t counting on that.
Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…READ more