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Dem Rep. John Rogers announces primary challenge to Doug Jones

MONTGOMERY — State Rep. John Rogers (D-Birmingham) delivered a House floor speech on Tuesday asserting that he is running for the United States Senate against Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) in 2020.

“I am now a candidate for United States Senate,” he declared, opening his remarks at the microphone. “I’ve already, I’ve got – I’m running for real. I’m not backing down. I’m a candidate. I’ve already – I asked them to give me $1,000,000 [in campaign pledges to be able to run] and already $500,000 have come in already. And so if I get $500,000 [more], I’ll be an official candidate. I’m telling you right now.”

He again apologized for using the word “retarded” but doubled down on his other previous remarks.

Rogers claimed the morning-after pill is “the same thing” as any abortion. He also called a miscarriage “a natural abortion” and said there is no difference between a miscarriage and an intentional abortion.

Rogers said, “When you drive to back alleys, you start using that coat hanger and start using that medication — they can’t afford to get a regular abortion. If you got the money, you can pay somewhere else to get an abortion. If you’ve got enough money, you can fly to New York or Amsterdam to get an abortion. But if you’re a poor person, you can’t get that. So you [have] to use that coat hanger… you’re damaging that fetus. That fetus is damaged, and then you’re forced to have that child? I just read the other day that they had five kids locked in a basement, five kids. Emaciated kids, kids that were tied up in chains in a basement. Why would you want to force a child on that family?”

He then added that sonograms are intended to be used for a mother to “track” a baby “all the way through birth [to make a decision] whether or not that child will be a child they want.”

The longtime state representative also reiterated his anger at Jones allegedly calling him to “chastise” him last week.

“Don’t nobody call me on the phone to tell me to be quiet. I don’t care if you’re the president or you[‘re] the senator … the last person that ever chastised me was my mother and my father. And they both passed,” Rogers said, adding he told Jones “to go where the sun [doesn’t] shine.”

This came a week exactly after Rogers’ initial remarks on HB 314, comments that went viral a day later.

Jones has established himself as an automatic pro-choice vote in the U.S. Senate. He has previously voted against banning using federal funds for abortions and even voted against banning late-term abortions.

In a statement to Yellowhammer News on Tuesday, Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) reacted to Rogers sharing that Jones called him last week and said Rogers was “right” about his abortion remarks. Jones has not denied the allegation, saying, “I’m disappointed he made our private conversation public.”

“Doug Jones has a track record of saying one thing publicly while showing his true ultra-liberal colors behind closed doors,” Byrne said. “We already knew he is a pro-abortion Democrat, but I would have hoped he didn’t truly believe in these horrific comments. As a Christian with a 100% pro-life record, I am ready for the fight to defeat Doug Jones and make sure Alabama has a pro-life Senator.”

Update 3:50 p.m.:

A National Republican Senatorial Committee’s (NRSC) spokesman released a statement on Yellowhammer News’ reporting.

“Doug Jones and John Rogers share the same views on abortion, but Rogers is at least honest about it,” NRSC spokesperson Nathan Brand said. “Even Alabama Democrats are taking note of how dishonest Doug Jones is.”

Update 5:30 p.m.:

Rogers, in an interview with Yellowhammer News outside of the House chamber, said there is an audio recording of the “heated” phone call in which Jones allegedly “chastised” him.

He advised Frank Matthews, a well known social justice and political activist in Birmingham, has that recording.

Matthews was not immediately available for comment.

Rogers also confirmed to Yellowhammer News his intent to run for the Senate, saying he would file his FEC paperwork once he secures at least $1,000,000 in pledged campaign contributions. Rogers said he wants to ensure the necessary money is there before jumping in because he is serious about the endeavor and not doing it for show.

“I don’t want to run a campaign just to run. I want to run to win,” Rogers said. “And I’m going to be a competitive candidate.”

Rogers reiterated that besides how Jones talked to him on the phone, he did not like how the senator said one thing in private but another publicly.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn