WASHINGTON — Doug Jones, a former Democratic senator from Alabama, will serve as a guide for President Biden’s Supreme Court nominee during the Senate confirmation process, two senior administration officials said on Tuesday.
Mr. Jones, who left the Senate in 2021 and was on a short list to serve as Mr. Biden’s attorney general, will be a so-called Senate sherpa for Mr. Biden’s nominee. The president has promised to name a Black woman to the role, a decision that has drawn protests from Republicans and foreshadowed a contentious process.
Sherpas have borrowed their nicknames from people who live in the Himalaya Mountains and are known for their ability to guide travelers through hazardous terrain, including at high altitudes and in frigid conditions.
Once Mr. Biden chooses a nominee, Mr. Jones will introduce her to senators and prepare her for hearings. Mr. Jones, who served a three-year Senate term, has far less experience than several of his sherpa predecessors, including Jon Kyl, who served three terms as a Republican senator from Arizona and guided Brett M. Kavanaugh through one of the more bitter Senate confirmation hearing processes in recent history.
But Mr. Jones was the first Democrat in decades to hold a Senate seat in a deeply conservative state.
In 2017, Kelly Ayotte, a Republican senator from New Hampshire, was the sherpa for Neil M. Gorsuch during his confirmation process.
“Well, it’s kind of a funny name,” she told NPR at the time, “because a sherpa means bringing someone up a mountain.”