The most vulnerable incumbent Democratic senator on the ballot this fall, Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama, received some outside support this week as the first Democratic group to spend on his behalf launched TV advertising this week.
It’s the first sign that national Democrats are willing to commit resources to defending Jones, a freshman who narrowly won a special election against Republican Roy Moore’s scandal-plagued campaign in 2017. In deep-red Alabama, Democrats have been reluctant to spend on outside advertising for Jones – no other Democratic group or party committee has spent on advertising on Jones’ behalf, or booked any future reservations in the fall.
Duty and Honor, the nonprofit outside spending group aligned with Democratic leadership, launched the first ads in support of Jones this week. The group has over $500,000 of airtime reserved in Alabama over the next three weeks, according to data from Kantar Media/CMAG.
The first ad is a health care focused spot, highlighting Jones’ work during the coronavirus pandemic and his support for expanding Medicaid.
“During this COVID crisis, too many Alabamians don’t have access to affordable health care. That’s why Doug Jones is working with anyone to protect people with pre-existing conditions, ensure seniors are protected and rural hospitals are funded,” the ad says.
The group has spent a total of about $30 million supporting Democratic Senate candidates this cycle so far, including reservations through the end of August. But the new advertising is the group’s first foray into Alabama, having concentrated most of its spending in competitive races in Georgia, North Carolina, Maine and Montana.
Jones enters the fall with meaningful resources, having reported nearly $9 million in cash on hand at the end of June. But he faces an uphill battle against Republican nominee Tommy Tuberville, the former college football coach who defeated former attorney general and former US Sen. Jeff Sessions in a competitive primary last month. Tuberville has the full-throated support of President Donald Trump, who won Alabama in 2016 by nearly 30 points.