Incumbents like Senator Doug Jones carry name recognition into reelection bids, and challengers usually have to raise a lot of money for ads to their raise their profile. But that’s not the case in this year’s Alabama U.S. Senate race.
Jones, a Democrat who won the seat in a special election in 2017 over Roy Moore, is being challenged by former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville.
“His primary advantage is he’s been the coach of Auburn University’s football team,” said Jess News 19 political analyst. “Because that brought him instant name recognition when he became a candidate. Because there were other candidates who claimed an association with Trump but they didn’t have that, the instant value of high level of name recognition.”
Jones’ 2017 upset win was aided by controversy.
“He really needs a development in the campaign of the sort that we saw when he ran against Chief Justice Moore,” Brown said. “At this point, Senator Jones needs for Coach Tuberville to have some sort of serious image problem, an ethics-related problem.
Brown said the Republican’s campaign is looking to avoid a late turnover.
“They’re running a fairly low-profile, low-risk campaign, with the coach doing a lot of small retail politics kind of events. To my knowledge, the coach has decided he doesn’t need to advocate any particular policies or developments for the benefit of Alabama. He can just ride on the Trump bus,” Brown said.
Tuberville’s message has focused on his support for President Trump, who he’s called the “greatest president to serve in my lifetime.”
Brown said the strategy is straightforward.
“He has remained steadfastly loyal regardless of national developments,” Brown said. “He’s a Trump guy and he’s going to be running in a state where the President — Alabama will be probably one of 2 or 3 of Trump’s best states just in terms of percentage of the vote.”
Jones has raised more than $14 million and is an incumbent, but he’s in a Republican-dominated state.
“He has an uphill struggle, because the position he’s likely to face in November is that he’s going to have to convince about 1 of every 6 Trump voters in Alabama to cross over and vote for him in order for him to win,” Brown said.
In 2016, Donald Trump received 1.3 million votes in the presidential election. In the 2017 special election, Jones received 673,000 votes.