Senate-elect Jones doesn’t want a strict Democrat label

Hope Yen
Associated Press

Washington – Democrat Doug Jones, who won election to the Senate from staunchly Republican Alabama, insisted to both parties in politically divided Washington Sunday that he’ll leave “all the options on the table” when it comes to his votes next year on issues from immigration to infrastructure.

“I’m going to consider anything,” said Jones, explaining that he doesn’t plan on labeling himself a progressive or a conservative Democrat but a “Doug Jones Democrat.”

In an early sign, Jones reiterated that he would oppose spending money to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, as President Donald Trump insists upon, and expressed concern that a sweeping GOP tax cut proposal that was on track for approval this week was being “plopped into a vote too quickly.” At the same time, Jones said people should not “expect me to vote solidly for Republicans or Democrats.”

The 63-year-old former U.S. attorney made clear he’s ready to move forward even though his Republican opponent in last Tuesday’s special election, Roy Moore, has yet to concede the race. “Alabama has spoken,” Jones said. “I will be ready to go regardless of whether he concedes or not.”

Jones’ election will cut the Republicans’ Senate majority to 51-49, when he takes office in early January.

White House legislative director Marc Short said the administration was eager to see whether Jones will “actually work to represent the people of Alabama” in a bipartisan way or side with liberal Democrats.

“We hope that frankly Doug Jones will help us change the climate here in Washington,” Short said. During the campaign, Trump chastised Jones as a liberal who would be “terrible” on crime and border security, and a “puppet” for Senate congressional leaders.

But on Sunday, Jones downplayed Trump’s earlier criticism as statements made “in the heat of a campaign,” and described the president’s congratulatory call after the election as “very gracious.”

“I’m going to be looking at issues on both sides,” he said.