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ALABAMA – Senator Richard Shelby announced in February that he will not run for reelection in 2022. Can a Democrat win that Senate seat? News 19 asked the Democrat who won Alabama’s US Senate race in 2017 and lost it in 2020.

“Can they win, will they win. That’s two different issues,” Jones said. “Democrats are building those blocks necessary right now with the changing demographics that we got in the state, the fact that people are looking at those issues, health care will continue to be a dominant issue. The economy is going to be an important issue and what’s going to be especially important is what democrats have done nationally to make sure they’ve lived up to the promise that they ran on in 2020.”

When it comes to filling Shelby’s seat, former Senator Doug Jones says voters want someone who cares about their interests.

Shelby’s legacy is getting things done in Washington. Jones says there are ways to tell if a candidate hoping to replace Shelby will also be effective in DC.

“If we see a situation where Republicans or Democrats in the state run for the US Senate and all they talk about is dividing people, then whoever gets in that seat is not going to be able to accomplish very much at all, because the other side is not going to have any of it,” Jones said.

No Democratic candidates have thrown their hats in the ring for his seat…Yet. But Democratic Party leaders say they are hopeful that they will have a many candidates running in 2022, including a Democratic challenger in that race.

Jones says any Democrat running for office in Alabama is going to face a major hurdle.

“You saw it in 2020. A lot of people are going to be look at whether or not the candidate is a Republican or Democrat and that’s unfortunate,” Jones said.

Jones says he believes there is a way for the party to change that.

“I think Democrats pretty much abandoned this state for a long time and they became too parochial looking at only small little areas and small districts. And I think we tended to not look at the bigger picture. We didn’t go into those areas and not just talk to people but listen. That’s where democrats failed, but that’s where Democrats now are coming to the fore and coming into their own,” Jones explained.

Democratic Party Chair Chris England says it’s time to end the transactional nature of politics and invest time.

“Only showing up a few months out from elections and asking for votes. We have to be intentional and deliberate to create genuine relationships with our voters. So, to that end, the Democratic party has begun the process of canvassing and building relationships through year-round work,” England said.

Keeping up the momentum from record turnout in the 2020 election, he says the party is working to create a pool of candidates for races across the state in 2022. 

“The party recently hosted a candidate training. And in that training we had well over 60 attendees, and we have quite a few workshops planned for the future in order to not only attract more candidates running for offices up and down the ballot and statewide, but to also train them to understand what they’re getting into and also to help them understand that they Democratic party will give them a level of support to make sure that they’re competitive,” England said.

And as for Former Senator Doug Jones, he told News 19 he has no plans to run for office at this time, but he intends to remain politically active.