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Fighting an Uphill Senate Re-election Battle, Doug Jones Does It His Way

In 2017, Mr. Jones cast himself as a figure of conciliation, and now on the campaign trail, he boasts of the legislation he has sponsored with Republicans and takes pains to note that he votes with Senator Richard Shelby, Republican of Alabama, as often as he votes with Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader. He kicked off his re-election around the idea of “One Alabama,” pledging not to run a campaign that was “us versus them or good versus evil.”

But public polling has shown Mr. Jones trailing Mr. Tuberville, who has kept a low profile on the campaign trail, in the low double digits. And while he is outrunning former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic presidential nominee, Mr. Jones would need a significant number of Republicans to split their tickets in a state where Mr. Trump won by 28 points in 2016.

“Alabama remains a deeply Republican state,” said David Hughes, a professor of political science and pollster at Auburn University at Montgomery. “While Doug Jones has done a really good job positioning himself to outperform those traditional expectations, there’s still a really steep hill to climb to get over the hill as the winner.”

His grim re-election chances, paired with his close relationship with Mr. Biden, have fueled speculation that he could be tapped as attorney general if the Democratic presidential nominee defeats Mr. Trump. At a recent rally in Leeds, he recounted to voters how Mr. Biden, who virtually addressed the crowd, called him late one night in 2017 to encourage him to run for Senate.

“He said, ‘Doug, you have got an opportunity,’” Mr. Jones recalled. “‘You have an opportunity with your background, with your history, with your compassion, with trying to help people. You’ve got an opportunity to redeem the soul of Alabama.’”

But Mr. Jones, for now, is firm that the only perch in Washington he is interested in is the Senate.

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