Despite a sleepless night waiting for special election results to come in, voters such as Marshall Johnson are finding time to celebrate today, after Doug Jones won a closely-watched Senate race against Republican Roy Moore.
Marshall Johnson has lived in Prague for many years and currently volunteers as Treasurer of Democrats Abroad Czech Republic. Prior to moving abroad, Marshall was a long time activist in the LGBT community and a civil rights activist, participating in the civil rights marches of the 1960s and was Human Rights Council Alabama coordinator and Alabama Integrity convener in the 90s. We are delighted that he had time to talk to us today about Doug Jones' victory and his experience as an Alabamian abroad.
How difficult was it to vote in this election from Prague? Did you have any issues getting your ballot in?
It was very easy. I’m already registered to vote, so I just followed the directions on VoteFromAbroad.org to request my ballot. It took only a few minutes. I mailed in my request and then received my ballot with plenty of time to fill it out and mail it back to Alabama.
Alabama is one of the most conservative states in the country. Republicans have dominated for decades, and it can be a steep uphill battle for any candidate with a D next to their name. Did you think Alabama would ever put aside its long term prejudice against Democrats and do the right thing in this election?
I did not. Back in the Gore campaign I tried my best to get Al to make a brief stop in Alabama. I was in school at Vanderbilt with his sister, Nancy. I met with Al in Nashville and he said that it would be a waste of time and money for him to come to Alabama. Not only did the Democrats living in Alabama feel the prejudice but I think the whole Democratic Party felt it. I hope this will change with Doug Jones' win last night.
Does Doug’s win make a difference about how you feel about being from Alabama?
Today I can say that I am no longer embarrassed to tell people I am from Alabama. I hope this feeling lasts and that we will see a gradual change in the political attitude.
New York and California regularly make international headlines. Have a lot more people been asking you about Alabama now? Overall my Czech friends and students have been much more interested in the Federal situation than in a particular State race, but over the past few weeks I feel they have have been much more interested in the political situation in Alabama.
This morning I have gotten messages of congratulations from quite a few people! I have mostly heard from people like me who used to live in Alabama. They seem to share my pride that Alabama finally elected a Democrat.
What do you want to tell Dems who vote in other deep red parts of the country?
Don't give up. Keep nominating good candidates and keep working to get them elected. If Alabama can elect a Democrat to the US Senate, any other red state can do it, too.