‘I just don’t know what the hell to say’: Doug Jones gives emotional victory speech after massive Alabama Senate upset

Democratic Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Doug Jones acknowledges supporters at the election night party in Birmingham, Alabama, U.S., December 12, 2017.

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Democratic Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Doug Jones acknowledges supporters at the election night party in Birmingham, Alabama, U.S., December 12, 2017.
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REUTERS/Marvin Gentry

  • Senator-elect Doug Jones delivered an emotional victory speech on Tuesday night following his stunning defeat of Republican Roy Moore in Alabama’s special election.
  • Jones quoted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and told his supporters that they “helped bend” the arc of the moral universe “a little closer toward justice.”

Senator-elect Doug Jones delivered an emotional victory speech on Tuesday night following his stunning defeat of Republican Roy Moore in Alabama’s special election.

“I am truly overwhelmed. I am truly, truly overwhelmed,” Jones said. “I’ve been waiting all my life and I just don’t know what the hell to say.”

After thanking his family, most notably his wife, with whom he celebrated his 25th wedding anniversary on Tuesday, Jones remarked on the historic nature of his election to a Senate seat that has been held Republicans for over two decades. Jones described the race against Moore, who faces several accusations of sexual misconduct with teenagers, as a battle for decency and unity.

“I’ve said it before. Alabama has been at a crossroads. We have been at crossroads in the past. And unfortunately, we have usually taken the wrong fork,” Jones said. “Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, you took the right road.”

He went on, “This campaign has been about dignity and respect. This campaign has been about the rule of law. This campaign has been about common courtesy and decency and making sure everyone in this state … is gonna get a good shake in life.”

Jones struck a notably conciliatory tone in his speech, “pledging” to build bridges across the state and reach out to those who didn’t vote for him.

He concluded with words from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., repeating the civil rights leader’s famous quote, “the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

“Tonight, in this time and this place, you helped bend that moral arc a little closer toward justice,” Jones said. “That moral arc – not only was it bent more, not only was its aim truer, but you sent it right through the heart of the great state of Alabama.”

Jones’ win is a major victory for Democrats and a blow to the GOP’s legislative future, reducing the party’s advantage in the Senate to a single seat.

Once thought a long shot, Jones benefited from a large influx in outside donations, both from individuals and national Democratic groups, after the first misconduct allegations against Moore were reported by The Washington Post in November.

A former federal prosecutor, Jones is well known for prosecuting two Ku Klux Klansman who bombed Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963, killing four young black girls. He thanked his black supporters, who turned out in record numbers on Tuesday, giving him crucial advantages both in the state’s urban counties and rural areas.