Jeff Sessions will not regain his old Alabama U.S. Senate seat this year.
The former U.S. attorney general has lost to Tommy Tuberville, a first-time political candidate and former college football coach, in the state’s Republican runoff election for the seat, The Associated Press projects.
Tuberville — who was endorsed by President Trump in the GOP matchup — edged ahead of Sessions in Alabama’s state primary in March but failed to secure a majority of the vote, setting up the runoff on Tuesday. The former Auburn University football coach will now face Democratic incumbent Sen. Doug Jones in November.
Sessions was an early endorser of Trump’s presidential bid and then served as the president’s attorney general until he was ousted in the fall of 2018. Sessions faced prolonged criticism from the president for choosing to recuse himself from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference. Sessions said he was bound by law to recuse himself.
Trump has continued to mock Sessions, calling him a “disaster” and loudly endorsing Tuberville for the seat.
“I know that he has his strong feelings about this race,” said Sessions, who previously held the Alabama Senate seat for 20 years. “I know he’s upset about the long, prolonged investigation that really disrupted his life and, in many ways, made it hard for him to govern effectively.”
In a recent advertisement, Tuberville highlighted Sessions’ tenure in the Trump administration, saying Sessions “wasn’t man enough to stand with President Trump when things got tough.”
In addition to securing Trump’s endorsement, Tuberville outraised Sessions by more than $1 million.
Tuberville faced attacks from the Sessions campaign over his lack of political experience. As NPR’s Debbie Elliott reported, the former coach “faced scrutiny for his role in a hedge fund that defrauded investors, and Sessions has criticized him for living in Florida before coming back to Alabama to run for Senate.”
Looking ahead to the general election, Jones’ seat in the Senate is likely to be the hardest for Democrats to hold onto. Jones narrowly defeated Roy Moore in a 2017 special election amid Moore being accused of sexual assault and having controversial engagements with underage women.
Jones was the first Alabama Democrat to be elected to the U.S. Senate since 1997. The race is expected to lean Republican, according to the Cook Political Report.