- The Washington Times
Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Jeff Sessions appears to have the inside lane to claim the GOP nomination for his old Senate seat in Alabama, but the other Republicans in the race are ramping up their efforts with less than a month to go before the vote.

Republican Rep. Bradley Byrne announced he’s got $2 million, while political newcomer Tommy Tuberville released an ad showing him from his days as a football coach at Auburn University, yelling at a referee so vociferously that an assistant had to restrain him.

He calls himself “a politician’s worst nightmare,” and vows to be a loyal foot soldier for President Trump.

“God sent us Donald Trump, because God knew we were in trouble,” Mr. Tuberville declares in the ad.

That Mr. Trump is the all-consuming figure in Alabama’s Senate race has become clearer amid the impeachment proceedings.

Sen. Doug Jones, the Democratic incumbent, is one of the most-watched lawmakers ahead of Wednesday’s vote on whether to convict the president.

Some analysts say they expect he’ll vote to acquit Mr. Trump, figuring it’s the only path to save his seat while Mr. Trump is at the top of the ticket. Yet others, including some of his Senate colleagues, say they figure Mr. Jones realizes he’s unlikely to hold the seat, and he’ll go out with a bang, voting to convict.

The Jones camp has done its best to put a brave face on the impeachment battle, with the senator’s son Carson Jones writing a Medium piece on Jan. 31 headlined “Doug Jones was elected for this moment in history.”

Mr. Jones won his seat in a 2017 special election, filling the seat Mr. Sessions vacated to become Mr. Trump’s attorney general.

The GOP side was a mess that year, with former state Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore ousting Mr. Sessions’ replacement in a primary. He was then dogged by accusations of sexual misconduct with teenage girls while he was in his 20s and 30s.

Mr. Sessions would be dumped by Mr. Trump after the 2018 election. Word quickly got around that he was interested in reclaiming his seat, but in the meantime, the primary field had firmed up.

After Mr. Sessions announced his bid late last year, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill dropped out. But Mr. Tuberville and Mr. Byrne are still battling.

“Bradley will be crisscrossing the state over the next month meeting with voters,” Byrne campaign manager Seth Morrow told The Washington Times. “We are the only campaign to visit all 67 counties. With more and more voters learning about Bradley’s record as a Christian, conservative fighter, our campaign is growing stronger every day.”

Mr. Sessions’ campaign declined to comment for this story, though internal polling has leaked showing him with 43% support. Mr. Byrne trailed at 22%, and Mr. Tuberville was a point behind.

Despite their rough breakup, Mr. Sessions is running as an ally of Mr. Trump and someone who will help the president “drain the swamp.”

Some Alabama conservatives grumble that Mr. Sessions is a part of the swamp.

“Sessions will be the darling of Fox News and will ask for his seat back on the Judiciary Committee, which does absolutely nothing for Alabama,” Steve Flowers wrote in a Yellowhammer News column this weekend. “Sessions does not really want to be effective. He is the ultimate ideologue.”

• James Varney can be reached at jvarney@washingtontimes.com.

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