The Young Democrats of America wrapped up their national conference in Birmingham Sunday. More than 200 Democrats participated in training sessions to help organize in red states like Alabama. The conference left young Democrats across the state hopeful about the 2020 election.
Alabama Young Democrats were easy to spot at this weekend’s conference, which took place at the Sheraton Birmingham, many wearing U.S. Senator Doug Jones campaign buttons.
In case y’all haven’t heard, the @youngdems are in town! Welcome to the Magic City from Doug and all of us at HQ (hot tip, try white sauce while you’re here)! We’re thrilled to have you in Birmingham. #YDABH pic.twitter.com/jyLwz6VRIr
— Doug Jones for Senate (@DougJonesHQ) December 6, 2019
Robert Mardis III, president of Birmingham Young Democrats, says Jones can win the U.S. Senate seat again if he can connect with all Alabamians.
“And actually stay true to a message that resonates between not just black folks, not just Democrats, but with Alabama as a whole,” he says. “Because even though we’re Democrats and Republicans, we do have some similarities that will spark our interest to get us engaged.”
Mardis says their priorities include the elimination of student loan debt and climate change. That’s why, he says, he supports Bernie Sanders for president.
“Southern states are going to be the states that are more affected by climate change at a more rapid rate,” he says. “So that’s why I support Bernie overall.”
Adarris May of Birmingham planned to vote for Kamala Harris next year. She ended her campaign last week. He hasn’t decided which presidential candidate he’ll support next, but for now, May says his priority is to re-elect Senator Doug Jones.
“We’ve been on defense, our party in the state for a long time,” he says. “I think now finally with our senator and our representatives working for us, I think that we’re going to actually be able to accomplish a lot of things here.”
Josh Coleman, president of the Alabama Young Democrats, says this weekend’s conference taught Democrats how to better organize — not just in blue cities like Birmingham, but in rural areas, too. He says that will be key to re-electing Democratic lawmakers like Jones.
“We need to knock on doors, we need to make phone calls. We need to make people aware of what the senator is doing, what he’s done for folks in Alabama,” he says.
Coleman says the party has a lot of work to do in Alabama, but turning the state purple isn’t impossible.