Tuberville leads Sessions heading into runoff
Former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville and former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions are heading to a runoff in the Republican race to face U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) in the November General Election.
In Alabama’s Republican U.S. Senate primary on Tuesday (as of 97.80% reporting), Tuberville garnered 33.39%, followed by Sessions (31.65%), First District Congressman Bradley Byrne (24.89%) and former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore (7.15%).
The runoff will be held March 31 because no candidate received over 50% in the primary.
At respective primary night watch parties, Tuberville and Sessions rallied their supporters and encouraged supporters of other candidates to join their teams.
Yellowhammer News’ Henry Thornton was on the ground in Mobile at both the Sessions and Byrne watch parties, and he reported that the mood among Sessions’ team was steady all evening; the energy never flagged towards gloom but was never jubilant, either.
The crowd size for his speech was slightly less than 50 people.
Sessions in his remarks praised Byrne. “He did a good job as my congressman,” said Sessions, who is a resident of Mobile.
Byrne decisively won the First Congressional District, and his supporters there will be a key factor in the runoff to come.
The former attorney general in his speech previewed what might be to come for the next 27 days of a runoff election.
Sessions appeared to latch on to the lack of public support Tuberville displayed towards Trump in 2016. Sessions also called Tuberville a “tourist from Florida” and pointed out that the retired coach did not donate to Trump “even with all his millions.”
Tuberville held his watch party at Auburn Oaks Farm in Notasulga.
As has been his campaign theme, he opened his remarks by saying that it was a “great night for us but a bad night for the swamp.” Tuberville has consistently painted himself as the outsider in the race, not having previously run for or served in elected office.
“We’re going to overtime, and I know somebody who knows how to win in overtime,” he quipped. “We’re going to finish what President Trump started when he looked at Jeff Sessions from across the table and said, ‘You’re fired.'”
“And in 28 days, with your help and God’s grace, we’ll finish the job,” Tuberville added to enthusiasm from the crowd.
“Only one candidate in this race will support Donald Trump down the line,” he continued. “Doug [Jones] won’t. Jeff [Sessions] didn’t. But Tommy will.”
The most important factor to watch — and to be decided — is whether President Donald Trump will wade into the runoff. In the primary, Trump refrained from attacking Sessions while saying, “He’s got tough competition.”
“I mean, you have the football coach. Tommy is doing very well. You have some good people running in Alabama. Let’s see what happens,” the president added back in November.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn
Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: email@example.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.