Alabama Democrats Describe Doug Jones' Win As 'Euphoria'
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
This was a big week for Democrats.
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UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Doug Jones the Democrat, he will be the next United States senator from Alabama. He beats...
SIEGEL: The results of Alabama's special election mean the Senate will soon be split even more narrowly, 51 Republicans to 49 Democrats. And while that has Democrats all over the country celebrating, this win has special significance for Alabama Democrats.
REBECCA PETERS: Since I've been old enough to vote, Alabama has gone Republican in every U.S. Senate and gubernatorial race and every presidential election.
SIEGEL: That's Rebecca Peters of Huntsville, Ala. She says those years haven't been easy.
PETERS: It's been really disheartening, frustrating, embarrassing and quite isolating.
KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:
The political climate changed in the run-up to this latest election. Republican Roy Moore was an unconventional candidate from the beginning. And his chances weren't helped when allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced just over a month before the election.
PERMAN HARDY: I kept telling people, don't let this opportunity pass you by. Let's take advantage of this opportunity to make a change.
SIEGEL: That's Perman Hardy of rural Lowndes County, Ala. She was energized. On election day, she got up at 6:30 in the morning to drive anyone she could find to the polls.
HARDY: I even had people that never voted before. But I said, if you vote, you've got a voice. And every reply was, OK, if you feel that strong, I might as well feel as strong as you feel about voting. So pick me up and take me to the polls. I want to vote.
MCEVERS: Reverend Gwendolyn Cook Webb was at Doug Jones HQ on Tuesday night. She's been involved in progressive politics going all the way back to the civil rights era when she marched in Birmingham with Martin Luther King Jr. She says she felt the same electricity from that Birmingham march on Tuesday.
GWENDOLYN COOK WEBB: I saw people from all over. And that put me right back in 1963 to have all of these different race, creeds, colors, nationalities - to have all of these people coming in together for this election.
SIEGEL: All of the Alabama Democrats we heard from agree Tuesday was a memorable night. Rebecca Peters wants to think it's a sign of things to come.
PETERS: I hope that it is sparking winds of long-needed change. And shame for me has been replaced by gratitude and hope and the knowledge that every vote counts. And that's the first time in my life that it's proven to be true, particularly as a citizen of Alabama.
MCEVERS: Ken Mullinax of Montgomery has been involved in Democratic politics in Alabama for decades. And for him, this was a turning point.
KEN MULLINAX: I think it's the beginning of a new era. I've got hope that I have never had in the last 10, 15 years. I'm going to get involved again. Before, I sort of wrote it off. I want to pinch myself and make sure it's really true and this isn't a dream.
MCEVERS: That moment might ultimately be fleeting, though. Jones' term is up in 2021, and Republicans will no doubt be gunning hard for his seat. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.