The Senate has edged closer to Democratic equality with the Alabama special election of Doug Jones. The other senator to be sworn in is Tina Smith, who will replace Al Franken. Now, the Senate is only one vote short of having a tie, 49-51, and two votes short, if Vice President Mike Pence comes in to break it. The real surprise, though, is who Jones invited to escort him to take his oath of office on the Senate floor.
Jones was the first Democratic senator from his state to be elected by Alabama in a quarter of a century. His state is one of the most conservative in the country. The new senator defeated Republican, Roy Moore, for the seat. The Republican contender fell behind in the election, when allegations about his sexual abuse of a 14-year-old girl, among others, came to light. At the time, he was in his 30’s.
Traditionally, when a senator is sworn in, the state’s other senator escorts him or her down the Senate aisle. Today though, Jones has chosen his long-time friend, former vice president, Joe Biden. According to WAAY 31 in Huntsville, Alabama, no one contacted the senior Alabama senator, Republican Richard Shelby.
The former vice president campaigned for his friend in Alabama, even recording a robocall to take Jones over the top in the last days of the campaign. After he won, Biden tweeted his congratulations to his friend, according to The Chicago Tribune:
‘Doug Jones. Thank you, Alabama. You’ve elected a man of incredible integrity, grit, and character. A fighter for working class and middle class Alabamians. He is going to make you proud in the Senate.’
The Chicago Tribune reported that due to the media attention, Jones said he wants to enter the Senate with:
‘(A) little bit of a voice. There are a lot of people who didn’t vote for me, and I hope they will keep an open mind because I am going to try to be the best senator I can for the state to try to move the state forward as a whole and not just one particular group or philosophy.’
Donald Trump called 63 year-old Jones on the day he won to congratulate him, so the president will want the new senator to work with him. At the very least, his voters will want to see him work with the Republicans on some issue. Jones has suggested providing the funds for a large infrastructure bill as one possibility.
ABC News confirmed that Biden would escort Jones in a tweet, saying:
‘Former Vice President Joe Biden will escort Doug Jones for his swearing-in today, an aide to the VP confirms. Biden will also speak at a small gathering of friends, family and supporters after the swearing-in.’
When Biden’s political action committee, American Possibilities, asked for contributions to help “change the face of leadership all around this country,” Jones wrote a fundraising email for him. The two met 41 years ago at Jones’ law school, Samford University. At the time, Biden was a senator for Delaware.
Jones wrote in his fundraising email, according to USA Today:
‘Since that moment, I’ve had the pleasure of calling him my friend. And a week ago today, after the people of Alabama turned out to vote and I learned that I would be our state’s next senator, he was one of the first people who called me.’
Biden has not ruled out a run for president in 2020.
Featured Image via Getty Images/Mark Walheiser.