WASHINGTON — Former college football coach Tommy Tuberville bested Jeff Sessions in the Alabama Senate runoff Tuesday and will advance to the November general election where he’ll face the Democratic incumbent, Sen. Doug Jones.
Tuberville’s win is a victory for President Donald Trump, who backed the former Auburn University coach and railed against Sessions, his former attorney general.
Tuberville and Sessions led Alabama’s March primary, which resulted in a runoff because of state law.
Sessions held the Senate seat for two decades before being tapped to serve as US attorney general by Trump. The relationship between the two soured after Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation that led to the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel. After months of public bitterness, while Sessions carried out much of the president’s agenda, Trump ultimately forced Sessions to resign. Since then, the president has regularly criticized Sessions, calling him a “disaster” while denouncing his Senate bid. In March the president endorsed Tuberville on Twitter, calling him a “REAL LEADER who will never let MAGA/KAG, or our Country down!”
The runoff, which was delayed because of the coronavirus, is a win that breaks a streak of failed endorsements from the president, including Virginia Rep. Denver Riggleman, Lynda Bennett of North Carolina, and Colorado Rep. Scott Tipton, who all lost to their primary opponents.
The election outcome sets the stage for a contentious battle in Alabama where Republicans are looking to regain a solid GOP seat. Jones, a Democrat, upset Republican Roy Moore, an ex-judge accused of sexual misconduct in 2017. The Alabama race will be key to Republicans securing their party’s Senate control as Democrats look to overturn GOP leadership.
In a statement about the primary result Tuesday night, Jones pushed himself as someone willing to work with Republicans in Washington. “The choice before the voters is an unprepared hyper-partisan that will add to the divide in Washington, or my proven track-record to find common ground and get things done,” he said.
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