Seldom has the entire nation been so focused on an off-year Senate race, let alone in a place where the seat has been so securely in the hands of one party for decades. But the focus was very much on Alabama earlier this week as Tuesday's election neared, the polls tightened and a long-shot Democrat seemingly had a shot at nabbing the U.S. Senate seat in that very red state.
After a nail-biting evening, the news came out, causing a storm of postings on Facebook. Democrat Doug Jones had won the seat, rallying a huge bloc of black voters to the polls to squeak out a victory that shifted the congressional Senate Republican majority to a one-vote margin.
Republican candidate Roy Moore, an ultra-conservative who had twice been removed from the state's high court for defying federal law, was done in by multiple reports of sexual harassment and assault. News stories highlighted accusations of inappropriate contacts with teenage girls when he was in his 30s, and his denials were not enough to sway the majority of voters. Still, he lost in a very tight race, by about 20,000 votes out of the more than 1.3 million cast.
The South's racial divide persisted in the bitter contest, in which President Donald Trump stumped for the besieged Moore. White women voted more than 2 to 1 for Moore. White men voted more than 4 to 1 for Moore. Ninety-seven percent of black women and 92 percent of black men voted for Jones.
In liberal-leaning Ashland, it wasn’t hard to find people who cheered Jones' victory.
Mary Hodgins — I thought it was a great result. It restored my faith in humanity. It’s a time of change. People now believe what we, as women, have known was going on for a long time (about sexual assault). It’s a dynamic change taking place and it’s for the good of everyone. That was the main thing for me in that race. People realized Moore wasn’t being truthful. He was basically a narcissist with no self-reflection. People believed the women accusers were credible.
Tim Lane — It was a good outcome which Democrats hopefully can repeat in 2020. Moore was someone who shouldn’t be in the Senate because he’s a sexual predator. His views on gays, LGBT rights, basic rights were all bad. His religious ideas were anti-Muslim, anti-American. It’s definitely part of Democratic momentum but they’ll have to work hard to keep the anti-Trump energy going. Their (Republicans') support for him is so ingrained in this country.
Ronaldo Reyburn — I’m glad to see people stood up to be counted. It’s a trend-setter for people to stand up and work for it. I didn’t pay much attention to it. In making the Senate so close, we could see (Vice President Pence) breaking tie votes and he’s pretty scary, so that concerns me. He doesn’t stand up for the people but for the powers that be.
Sharon Levin — I’m very happy that scum Moore didn’t get in. It’s a very positive thing when morals become important to voters. I hope Trump’s immoral behavior gets him out of office. Democrats have made it that if you want to be in government, you’ve got to have morals. Women have a right to be treated respectfully. Things are shifting, like with the World Bank announcing it won’t fund oil and gas exploration after 2019.
David Frevert (declined photo) — I was for Jones. I liked the outcome. It was important to vote for reasonableness. A lot of people didn’t like Moore. It was a reasonable decision to select someone who is at least rational. I’m an independent. It was a rebuke for Trump; people are going to see he is not qualified.
— John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.