Doug Jones in Cullman: ‘This is a season of opportunity’


Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Doug Jones campaigned in Cullman for first time Wednesday night ahead of the Dec.12 special election. / Nick Griffin

This is a season of opportunity. The question is gonna be whether Alabama will grab hold of that opportunity, or whether we will sit on the sideline and let the world go around us.”
Doug Jones

CULLMAN – An excited crowd packed out Belle Vue Hall at Stone Bridge Farms Wednesday night to see Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Doug Jones and to hear him speak. It was Jones’ first visit to Cullman during his campaign against Republican candidate Roy Moore, and with just one week remaining before voters head to the polls for the special election Dec. 12, the audience, estimated between 120-150 people, was fired up.

Jones started his speech by talking about what he thinks makes him a good fit for the office and where he thinks his opponent is lacking.

“It’s important to be able to reach across the aisle, sometimes you’ve got to reach within your own party to knock a little common sense back into folks too, that’s what I can do. I believe I can talk to anyone in the Democratic Party as well as the Republican Party,” Jones said. “I don’t believe you can say that about Roy Moore. Roy Moore cannot, Roy Moore cannot even work with people within his own party much less reaching across the aisle and cooperating.”

Jones took a seemingly light-hearted jab at his opponent’s legal tanglings at one point, saying, “I’ve never gotten fired from a job once, much less twice,” to raucous applause and laughter.

“Because of politics, purely because of politics, our governor and our legislature refused to expand Medicaid and bring billions of dollars into this state and that was wrong, and we’ve got to change that,” Jones said.

The candidate focused a great deal on health care, particularly on how access to it, or lack thereof, affects children.

“A pure policy issue…health care is an important one, because if you listen to Roy Moore, he wants the federal government completely out of health care. That means no (inaudible), that means no Medicare, that means no funding for CHIP program, the Child Health Insurance Funding; he will not commit the funding a program that has given health insurance for 150,000 of Alabama’s children, 150,00 who could not or would not otherwise get health care without that program.

“Folks, when you invest in a child’s health care, it’s like investing in education, it is an investment in their future, but more importantly, it’s also an investment in our future, because those children are going to grow up to be your doctors and your lawyers and your city council men and your mayor and the people that run this state, your CEOS, so any investment in a child right now is an investment not only in their future, but in your future, and we have to remember that future as we go to the polls on Dec. 12.”

Switching gears, Jones tackled business.

“This is a season of opportunity. The question is gonna be whether Alabama will grab hold of that opportunity, or whether we will sit on the sideline and let the world go around us.”

Jones talked about why he believes he will be better for business in Alabama.

“We have such an opportunity to put Alabama’s best foot forward,” he said, “to make sure that we create the kind of business climate in Alabama that will allow folks in the Black Belt to start thriving businesses. We need to make sure that after Dec. 12 that the face of Alabama is not going to be someone like Roy Moore, who I believe, and I think all of you in this room believe it, will be a disaster for business in Alabama. An absolute disaster, and I’ll tell you why.

“When, you’re sitting down, and Jim Folsom done it a bunch, he did it with Mercedes, a German company. Think about this. Think about Roy Moore sitting down with a German CEO and saying, ‘Come to Alabama, because we don’t like anybody but a certain group of people, and I’m going to demean everybody but a certain group of people.' Does anybody in this room think that Mercedes-Benz would have come to Alabama if Roy Moore had been sitting on the other side of that table?”

Jones told his supporters, “We need to remember that. We need to remember, as we’re trying to attract businesses from around this country and from around the world, who is going be the face of Alabama.

“I know I’m not a pretty face,” Jones joked, but said that people know his history and know that he can reach common ground, and treat people with dignity, “even if we disagree.”

Near the end of his remarks, Jones broached the subject of Moore’s alleged sexual misconduct scandal.

“Folks, this is our time, this is our opportunity, but we’ve gotta seize it. It is up to us. And I don’t have to go through all the detail about what’s come out; I’ve said before and I’ll say it again. First of all, I never believed Roy Moore was good for Alabama before all this came out. Someone that’s been removed from office twice for disobeying the rule of law, the last time he went before the judiciary said his testimony was not credible, that he was misleading,” Jones said.

“I don’t believe he’s qualified to be a United States Senator,” Jones said, “because he used that Moral Foundation (The Foundation for Moral Law) for his own benefit to make sure he and his family enriched themselves, but now we’ve seen the disturbing conduct. This campaign, obviously, we have stuck with issues, we are talking about issues. We’re happy to meet every day, whether it’s with educators, manufacturing, labor, I’m taking phone calls and I’m meeting with folks, but there is this other noise out there that we can’t overlook. We simply can’t overlook, in this age and in this time when this country has reached its tipping point, about the power that women can feel to stand up and speak out about those things that they have to endure every day.

“It started with a Hollywood producer and other prominent people, but it also includes the waitresses, those that work in the hotel industry, any woman who deals with the public and has to deal with men on a daily basis….

“So Alabama, this is our time to say we are part of that movement. We are not gonna lag behind like we did so many other social movements in this country. Whether it’s the Civil Rights Movement, or whatever. It is our time to be a leading voice and step forward.”

Said Jones, “We’ve gotta make sure, that when we look our daughters and our granddaughters in the eye, we know that we’re gonna have an Alabama that will stand for them, that will believe them, regardless of when they stand up and speak out. We’ve gotta make sure that we tell our sons and our grandsons, this is not acceptable. That no matter how powerful you are, no matter how important you are, this is not acceptable behavior in the state of Alabama or in the country.  

Jones told the crowd that voters need to let the country know that Alabama’s moral compass is dead on.

Prior to Jones stepping up to the podium, two other guests spoke to the crowd. Former Alabama First Lady Marsha Folsom and American activist Lily Ledbetter, most famously known for the discrimination case Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.

Ledbetter spoke first, in support of Jones’ positions on equal pay for women.

“I am here because Doug Jones is the only candidate who will put the interest of working women and their families first in this country,” Ledbetter said. “Most people know my story, the court case I was part of wasn’t just about fair wages, it wasn’t just about women in the workplace, it was about justice and fairness. It was about making sure women who worked got equal pay as their male counterparts. Doug Jones is someone else who believes in justice and fairness.”

Folsom used the context of her days as First Lady to describe why she thinks Jones is fit for the office.

“As a business woman, I know how much strong political leadership can affect economic development,” Folsom said. “Many of you here knew my father who represented this county in the legislature years ago. One of the things he taught me was to be wary of shysters, charlatans, politicians and preachers. Old Roy Moore doesn’t really know if he’s a preacher or a politician, but we do know that he’s a shyster and a charlatan. My friends, this election is not about whether you are a Republican or a Democrat or an Independent. This senate election is about wrong and right, moral decency and integrity. This election is about somebody setting an example for our young men and women. Doug Jones is that person.”

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