The public career of Jeff Sessions that began 45 years ago as an assistant U.S. Attorney in Mobile is likely to come to an end Tuesday following the former Attorney General’s loss to Tommy Tuberville in the GOP runoff for the Senate.
Sessions, 73, spoke to the media from a Hampton Inn hotel in Mobile. The Associated Press called the election to Tuberville around 8:16 p.m. The former Auburn University head football coach had a commanding lead over Sessions by over 20 percentage points.
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
Tuberville will now move on to compete against Democratic U.S. Senator Doug Jones on Nov. 3, in a race that is expected to draw national attention as the balance of political power is at stake in the U.S. Senate. Republicans hold a 53-to-47 majority, and analysts believe the Alabama Senate contest is the only likely opportunity for Republicans to reclaim a Senate seat from a Democrat. At least five seats, all held by Republicans, are considered “toss ups” by the Cook Political Report.
Sessions had been vying to recapture a Senate seat he held from 1997-2017. The loss to Tuberville represented the first time Sessions was defeated at the ballot box since his political career began with a 1994 victory in an Alabama Attorney General race followed by four terms in the Senate and an appointment as the nation’s 84th U.S. Attorney General.
But it was a decision by Sessions, as attorney general in 2017, to recuse himself from the Justice Department’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential race that became his undoing. Trump has blasted Sessions for the decision throughout the campaign, and said on Twitter as recent as Saturday that the former attorney general is a “disaster” who “let us all down.”
Sessions said he recused himself from the investigation over concerns about impartiality given his role as an adviser in the Trump campaign in 2016. Sessions was also the first Senator to endorse Trump’s presidential candidacy and he served as an adviser to the president on a number of issues including immigration reform.
An independent investigation, headed up by special counsel Robert Mueller, threatened to unravel Trump’s presidency and the president has never forgiven Sessions.
The ill-will continued, with Trump endorsing Tuberville ahead of the runoff. He continued to slam his former attorney general on Twitter in posts both in March and in May. Sessions responded for the first time in May by telling Trump that the president was “damn fortunate” he recused himself from the investigation. Sessions said the recusal “protected the rule of law” and “resulted” in Trump’s “exoneration.”
Sessions has also repeatedly said that Trump’s personal feelings about the race does not dictate who Alabama voters choose as senator. Prior to Tuesday, Trump had been 0-2 in Senate election endorsements in Alabama. He lost out on his selection of Luther Strange ahead of the 2017 Republican runoff against Roy Moore. Trump then lost in his endorsement of Moore ahead of the 2017 general election.
Sessions was the most active of the two candidates during the campaign, traveling across Alabama and meeting with county GOP groups while criticizing Tuberville for not answering questions from the media and for forgoing participation in debates.
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