- The Washington Times
Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Alabama Democrat Doug Jones didn’t make it to the U.S. Senate without considerable outside help, and if fundraising is any indication, he will need it to stay on Capitol Hill.

Most of the $5 million campaign war chest Mr. Jones had amassed at the end of September came from distant liberal college campuses, law firms and Silicon Valley, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Out-of-state sources accounted for more than $650,000, or 67%, of Mr. Jones’ campaign money between 2015 and 2020, the current election cycle featured at OpenSecrets. A former U.S. attorney in the Clinton administration, Mr. Jones ran in the 2017 special election to replace former Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions, who became President Trump’s first attorney general.

In the cycle leading to the 2020 elections, Mr. Jones’ biggest contributor by far has been Google Inc., whose employees have chipped in $150,000.

That dwarfs the $93,000 he has taken in from University of Alabama-Birmingham employees, which ranks second. Apple also represents Silicon Valley among Mr. Jones’ top 10 contributors with $46,000, while Microsoft and Facebook have combined to furnish him with another $72,400, with all donations coming since 2017, records show.

Among the powerhouse law firms that are backing Mr. Jones’ reelection bid are Sullivan & Cromwell from New York ($82,400) and Akin Gump in Washington ($40,000), according to campaign finance reports.

Famously left-wing campuses such as the University of California and Harvard University also have been major financial supporters of Mr. Jones, records show, with Harvard employees providing $29,000 and those at Cal $30,000. Those schools lag the University of California San Francisco, whose employees have contributed $39,800 since 2010.

In Alabama, Mr. Jones’ key financial supporters are on the campuses of the University of Alabama-Birmingham and the University of Alabama, with contributions of $93,000 and $48,800, respectively.

Those sources and a healthy $2 million haul in the third quarter have allowed Mr. Jones to raise considerably more money than his top Republican opponents, Rep. Bradley Byrne and former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville. Those two, however, have relied on local pockets for most of their money.

The Jones campaign did not respond to a phone call and email seeking comment.

Almost all of Mr. Byrne’s top contributors are Alabama-based, led by Pilot Catastrophe Services, an insurance adjuster in Mobile, which has given him $58,800, records show. Mr. Byrne finished the third quarter with $2.5 million.

The Byrne campaign boasted that excluding loans it has bested the fundraising of all Mr. Jones’ opponents.

“Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi and the liberal elites are throwing money at Doug Jones because they know this seat could decide who controls the Senate,” Byrne campaign press secretary Lenze Morris told The Washington Times.

“Bradley is the only Republican candidate that has received grassroots donations from all 67 Alabama counties, and our campaign is built to last through November 2020 when we take back our United States Senate seat.”

Last week, Mr. Tuberville reported he had raised $373,000 in the third quarter, with 82 % of that coming from Alabama sources, leaving him with $1.4 million cash in hand.

Both of those campaigns have more than a third Republican candidate, Secretary of State John Merrill, who reported $738,429 cash on hand in the third quarter. More than one-third of that consists of loans.

Republicans said the contributions to Mr. Jones reinforces the image Alabamians already have of him as another liberal Democrat in Washington. Although Mr. Jones supports the agenda of the Trump administration more than most Democrats in the Senate, according to tracking services, he has sided with Democratic Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and the party leadership on several key votes, including trying to block the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh.

“While Doug Jones is supported by San Francisco socialists and East Coast liberals, Coach Tuberville has received the endorsement of the Alabama Farmers Federation,” Tuberville Campaign Manager Paul Shashy told The Washington Times. “We’ll take Alabama farmers over the crazies on the left any day.”

Mr. Jones managed to eke out a 22,000-vote victory in the 2017 special election in large part because of accusations that decades ago his Republican opponent, former state Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore, had sexually assaulted or propositioned teenage girls when he was a lawyer beginning his career.

The allegations against Mr. Moore, first reported by The Washington Post, generated heavy national press coverage, and prominent left-wing activist groups such as Democracy for America and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee backed Mr. Jones.

Those groups, which showered Mr. Jones with tens of thousands of dollars, made it clear they expected him to vote with the Democratic left wing.

Whether similar interest and money will come Mr. Jones’ way in 2020 — absent a polarizing candidate such as Mr. Moore, who has declared his candidacy again but is receiving scant attention — remains to be seen.

Lately, the lineup of liberal college faculty, lawyers and software engineers in the top ranks of Mr. Jones’ fundraising has prompted conservative Alabamians to charge him with supporting the Democratic leadership in Washington and avoiding taking a position on the impeachment of President Trump.

“He is taking some real heat in Alabama on this topic,” said Republican state chairman Terry Lathan. “When most of your funds are from outside our state like New York and California, that’s not Alabama. He’d be very comfortable in those states with his voting record.”

• James Varney can be reached at jvarney@washingtontimes.com.

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