Sessions crushed by Tommy Tuberville in Alabama U.S. Senate GOP runoff
♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor
MONTGOMERY (CFP) — Former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was crushed Tuesday in his quest to reclaim the U.S. Senate seat he gave up to serve in Donald Trump’s Cabinet, in a sweeping triumph for the president and his Twitter feed.
Tommy Tuberville, the former head football coach at Auburn University who was making his first run for elective office, took 61% to 39% for Sessions, carrying 64 of the state’s 67 counties.
“Thank you for your trust, your confidence. Your message of change is loud and clear,” Tuberville told supporters at a victory party in Montgomery, where he went directly after his November opponent, Democratic U.S. Senator Doug Jones.
“In Doug Jones’ Alabama, you take your marching orders from Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and the bartender AOC,” Tuberville said, referring to New York U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
“Doug Jones’ Alabama is not the conservative state we love and embrace and defend. It’s a liberal fantasy,” he said.
Jones won a special election in 2017 in deep red Alabama after the Republican nominee, Roy Moore, imploded in a sex scandal. He is considered the most endangered Democratic incumbent in the country this year.
Jones issued a statement after Tuberville’s win saying Alabama voters will have a choice in November between “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.”
Tuesday’s result was an ignominious defeat for Sessions, who represented Alabama in the Senate for 20 years and built a political brand so potent that Democrats didn’t even both to contest his election the last time he ran in 2014.
But this time around, he could not overcome the implacable opposition of Trump, who has never forgiven Sessions for recusing himself from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Trump endorsed Tuberville, made robocalls on his behalf, and used his Twitter feed to needle Sessions throughout the campaign. But Sessions continued to insist that he fully supported the president and his agenda.
“The people of Alabama have spoken, and they want a new leader, a new fresh face to go to Washington,” Sessions said at an election night event in Mobile where he was surrounded by eight of his grandchildren. “We felt like we were beginning to make some progress here at the very end, but it wasn’t enough.”
Sessions said he had “no regrets” about the decision to recuse himself, insisting that legally, he had no other choice.
“I was honored to serve the people of Alabama in the Senate, and I was extraordinarily proud of the accomplishments we had as attorney general,” he said. “I leave elective office with my integrity intact.”
Trump took to Twitter to congratulate Tuberville on the result, refraining from any direct attack on Sessions, although he dismissed Jones as “a terrible Senator who is just a Super Liberal puppet for Schumer & Pelosi.”
Alabama Republicans also decided competitive runoffs for two open U.S. House seats Tuesday.
In the 1st District (Mobile and southwest Alabama), Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl edged out former State Senator Bill Hightower for the Republican nomination. On the Democratic side of the ballot, James Averhart, a retired Marine who runs a non-profit that works to reintegrate former prisoners into society, won the Democratic nomiination over Kiani Gardner.
Carl will be the favorite in November in the heavily Republican district. U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne gave up the seat to make a losing U.S. Senate bid against Sessions and Tuberville.
In the 2nd District (Montgomery and southeast Alabama), former State Rep. Barry Moore defeated businessman Jeff Coleman and will be a heavy favorite in the fall against Democrat Phyllis Harvey-Hall. The seat opened up with the retirement of Republican U.S. Rep. Martha Roby.