Seeking a political comeback, former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is trying to beat out ex-college football coach Tommy Tuberville in Tuesday’s Republican primary runoff and reclaim the Alabama Senate seat he held for decades.
To do that, Sessions also has to go through President Donald Trump.
The president weighed in on Saturday on Twitter, calling Tuberville “a winner who will never let you down” and Sessions “a disaster who has let us all down. We don’t want him back in Washington.”
Big Senate Race in Alabama on Tuesday. Vote for @TTuberville, he is a winner who will never let you down. Jeff Sessions is a disaster who has let us all down. We don’t want him back in Washington!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 11, 2020
Sessions responded quickly: “My honor and integrity are far more important than these juvenile insults. … As you know, Alabama does not take orders from Washington.”
Sessions held the Senate seat for 20 years before resigning to lead Trump’s Justice Department.
Their relationship soured after Sessions withdrew from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Sessions has asked voters to look past his feud with the president.
“I’m calling on the people of Alabama and I’m saying this. You know me. You know I can be trusted,” Sessions said during a campaign stop this past week.
“I have stood with you. I have advanced our values and I’m asking you now to stand with me and make sure that the seat from Alabama in the United States Senate is not a potted plant, not an empty suit and is somebody who knows the issues and will fight for them.”
The winner of the runoff will take on the incumbent, Democrat Doug Jones, in a race with major implications for Senate control.
Republicans are defending 25 of the 38 Senate seats in play this year. Democrats must gain at least three to capture the majority.
In the weeks leading up to the runoff, Sessions has escalated his attacks on Tuberville, questioning both his involvement in a hedge fund in which Tuberville’s partner pleaded guilty to fraud and Tuberville’s handling of a case in which a football player was accused of statutory rape.
Tuberville’s campaign told The New York Times that his involvement in the hedge fund was a mistake that he has paid for, and has defended Tuberville’s handling of the player’s case.
Sessions has also derided Tuberville as a “tourist,” because he was until recently registered to vote in Florida.
A political newcomer, Tuberville is armed both with Trump’s endorsement and the statewide name recognition from his time on the sidelines at Auburn University.
His campaign declined to make Tuberville available for an interview or disclose any of his appearances in the week leading up to the primary. He has declined Sessions’ challenges to a debate, despite initially saying that he would participate.
“Jeff Sessions was a disaster. It’s time to send a message to Jeff Sessions that President Trump does not want him or his cronies in the swamp,” Tuberville wrote on Twitter last month.
It is never more obvious than it is now; @JeffSessions was a disaster. It’s time to send a message to Jeff Sessions that President Trump does not want him or his cronies in the swamp! #MAGA #KAG2020https://t.co/Xqg5arM9Cm pic.twitter.com/EQUJwakzTy
— Tommy Tuberville (@TTuberville) June 26, 2020
Jack Campbell, a political consultant and talk radio host who supports Tuberville, said Trump’s disavowal of Sessions has become the chief issue of the campaign.
“It’s totally the Trump recusal issue,” Campbell said. “I think that’s it in a nutshell.”
Alabama-based political consultant David Mowery said Sessions’ change of fortune is “almost mind-boggling.” Sessions once held the Senate seat so securely he didn’t even draw a challenger.
Tuberville led Sessions by 2 percentage points in the crowded March primary, but neither reached the threshold needed to avoid a runoff.
The third-place finisher, U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, has not endorsed in the race.
Sessions is banking on his long history with voters.
David Mosley of Ozark greeted Sessions after a campaign stop at Sweet Creek Farm Market. Moseley said he plans to vote for Sessions.
He said Sessions visited with his units during both of his National Guard deployments, asking the deployed soldiers how he could help them.
“That stuck out to me as someone who cares,” Mosely said.
The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.