Fresh off his upset victory over a controversial Republican in a Deep South election, Democratic U.S. Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama has decided to jump into the S.C. governor’s race.
Phil Noble, the Charleston businessman who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor, claimed Jones’ endorsement in a fund-raising email Thursday, hoping some of the Alabamian’s success will rub off on his primary race.
Jones was elected last month, becoming Alabama’s first Democratic U.S. senator in a quarter-century. Jones defeated controversial former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore whose campaign was hobbled by accusations of the Republican’s sexual contact with underage girls.
“For years, Phil and I have been working together to reform and revive the Democratic Party in the South,” Jones says in Noble’s email. “My win was a step – and now the next fight is Phil’s for governor in South Carolina.”
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Jones notes “Phil lived in Alabama in the civil rights era and I’ve long known about Phil’s family – and his father who was one of the first white community leaders in Alabama to stand up for civil rights and oppose George Wallace,” the state’s segregationist governor in the 1960s.
“For a long time after, the Nobles withstood a barrage of threats and harassment from the KKK and other white supremacists. But they never wavered and stood their ground for what’s right,” the email says.
Before his election to the Senate, Jones was best known as the prosecutor who successfully prosecuted Ku Klux Klan members for the 1963 Birmingham church bombing that killed four African-American girls.
In his bid for the Democratic nomination for governor, Noble is opposed by state Rep. James Smith, a Columbia lawyer, businessman and Afghanistan war veteran. Smith is considered the favorite. However, Noble touted a recent poll showing him with a five-point lead.
Democrats in South Carolina and other Southern states hope Jones’ win is an example of how their party can make gains in the GOP-dominated South.