Alabama Sen.-elect Doug Jones carved out a space all his own in the Senate Democratic caucus on Tuesday by handing the top spot in his congressional office to an African-American man.
Mr. Jones named Dana Gresham as his chief of staff — making the incoming Alabama senator the only member of the Democratic caucus to have a black chief of staff.
Mr. Jones is set to take the oath of office on Wednesday after defeating Republican Roy Moore in a special election last month that was held to fill out the final three years of Jeff Sessions’ term. Mr. Jones won 96 percent of the black vote, according to exit polls.
Mr. Gresham served as assistant secretary for government affairs at the U.S. Department of Transportation under President BarackObama.
A native of Birmingham, Mr. Gresham also has worked on Capitol Hill, serving as chief of staff for Rep. Artur Davis, who later became a Republican, and as legislative director for Rep. Bud Cramer.
The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies applauded the decision to pick Mr. Gresham for the post, pointing out that the only other black chief of staffs work for Republican senators — Jennifer DeCasper under Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina and Brennan Britton under Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas.
“The Joint Center commends Senator-elect Jones for his leadership and commitment to diversity,” said Don Bell, director of the Black Talent Initiative at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. “This is an important moment in the movement to make the Senate truly representative of all Americans.”
Mr. Jones, who successfully prosecuted members of the KKK involved in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in 1963 that killed four African-American girls, also named Mark Libell as his legislative director, Ann Berry as his transition adviser, and Katie Campbell as his deputy legislative director.