Former Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsThe Hill’s Campaign Report: Runoff elections in Texas, Alabama set for Tuesday Sessions fights for political life in Alabama runoff The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Argentum – All eyes on Florida as daily COVID-19 cases hit 15K MORE failed in his bid to reclaim his old Senate seat after losing to former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville in the Alabama GOP runoff on Tuesday.
Tuberville was leading Sessions 63 percent to 37 percent with 35 percent of precincts reporting, according to The Associated Press.
The former football coach will go on to face Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) in November. Jones is considered the most vulnerable Democrat facing reelection in 2020 in a race The Cook Political Report rates as “Lean Republican.”
The runoff comes months after the state’s Republican primary in March, when Sessions received 31.6 percent of the vote and Tuberville garnered 33.4 percent. Rep. Bradley ByrneBradley Roberts ByrneSessions fights for political life in Alabama runoff House panel votes against curtailing Insurrection Act powers after heated debate Overnight Defense: Pentagon chief says he opposes invoking Insurrection Act for protests | White House dodges on Trump’s confidence in Esper | ‘Angry and appalled’ Mattis scorches Trump MORE (R-Ala.) came in third with 25 percent of the vote.
Sessions congratulated Tuberville in a speech.
“I wanna congratulate Tommy Tuberville. He ran a really firm, solid race. He was focused on his goal and winning. He had a plan to do so,” Sessions said. “He is our Republican nominee and we must stand by him in November.”
The loss marks the first for Sessions in his political career, spanning more than 30 years in Alabama, including as attorney general and as senator for two decades.
Sessions has faced a barrage of public attacks from President TrumpDonald John TrumpWayfair refutes QAnon-like conspiracy theory that it’s trafficking children Stone rails against US justice system in first TV interview since Trump commuted his sentence Federal appeals court rules Trump admin can’t withhold federal grants from California sanctuary cities MORE since 2017, when, as the administration’s first attorney general, he recused himself from an investigation into Russia’s election meddling. Sessions resigned in 2018 after an acrimonious relationship with Trump.
Trump continued his attacks on Sessions during the Senate primary and runoff, and he endorsed Tuberville, a move that likely helped boost the coach-turned-politician to victory.
Trump has his highest state approval rating in Alabama, where 89 percent of potential GOP primary voters said they approved of the president, according to a Morning Consult tracking poll.
The former attorney general has sought to defend himself against Trump’s attacks, saying in a tweet on Saturday that Alabamians would make up their own minds.
“I’ve taken the road less traveled. Not sought fame or fortune. My honor and integrity are far more important than these juvenile insults. Your scandal-ridden candidate is too cowardly to debate. As you know, Alabama does not take orders from Washington,” Sessions said.
Trump on Tuesday congratulated Tuberville for his win.
“Tommy Tuberville WON big against Jeff Sessions. Will be a GREAT Senator for the incredible people of Alabama. @DougJones is a terrible Senator who is just a Super Liberal puppet for Schumer & Pelosi. Represents Alabama poorly,” Trump said in a tweet.
Wow, just called! @TTuberville – Tommy Tuberville WON big against Jeff Sessions. Will be a GREAT Senator for the incredible people of Alabama. @DougJones is a terrible Senator who is just a Super Liberal puppet for Schumer & Pelosi. Represents Alabama poorly. On to November 3rd.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 15, 2020
Meanwhile, Tuberville received valuable face time with Trump during the campaign, accompanying him on a trip on Air Force One. Trump was even supposed to campaign for the former coach in Mobile, but the trip was canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Tuberville won despite largely keeping a low profile in the run-up to Tuesday’s runoff.
Republican internal numbers through the runoff period have shown Tuberville with a consistent double-digit lead. A GOP source recently told The Hill that they had not seen a “credible poll” with Sessions down by single digits.
Sessions lost despite having the support of the state’s Republican establishment, including longtime Sen. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbySessions fights for political life in Alabama runoff House panel advances health bill with B in emergency COVID-19 funds Senate panel to vote on controversial Trump Fed pick Shelton MORE (R-Ala.).
Rachel Scully contributed
— Updated at 10:17 p.m.