Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions will face former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville in a runoff election on March 31 for the Republican nod in the U.S. Senate election in Alabama, as the two have emerged from a crowded field of seven candidates.
With 96% reporting, Tuberville emerged as the contest’s top vote-getter by nearly 12,000 votes, roughly two percentage points. The former football coach showed his might in Alabama’s rural counties but perhaps pulled off one significant upset by taking a plurality of votes in Jefferson County, home of the state’s largest metropolitan area of Birmingham.
Results as follows:
Tommy Tuberville 233,408 33%
Jeff Sessions 221,894 31%
Bradley Byrne 185,411 26%
Roy Moore 49,961 7%
Ruth Page Nelson 7,138 1%
Arnold Mooney 7,062 1%
Stanley Adair 6,558 1%
(with 96% reporting)
In his speech to supporters gathered in Notasulga, just due west of Auburn, Tuberville addressed his runoff opponent Sessions directly.
“Tonight, it looks like a great night for us and a bad night for the swamp,” Tuberville declared. “We’re going to overtime, and I know somebody who knows how to win in overtime. 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.”
Sessions, during remarks given to his supporters, did not address Tuberville by name. However, he reiterated his pledge to continue to push for President Donald Trump’s agenda from day one, if elected back to the U.S. Senate seat he held for two decades.
“Make no mistake, Alabama will claim our voice in the United States Senate,” Sessions said to his supporters in Mobile. “We will indeed defeat Doug Jones. The beginning of Donald Trump’s second term gives us a window of opportunity that we dare not miss. We must act with great urgency. This is not a drill. We must put our best team on the field. I’m not running for fame. I’m not running for money. I’m running to lead this charge.”
Coming up short on Tuesday was U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL), who carried his congressional district compromised of Alabama’s four southwestern-most counties but was not able to gain traction beyond his home media market of Mobile.
“Whatever the results are, we’ll respect them,” Byrne said to his supporters Tuesday night in Mobile. “The future of America is still in front of us. Let’s all work for the good of this country, and we will be just fine.”
“We’re going to fire Doug Jones this fall,” he added.
The seat up for grabs in the November 3 general election is currently occupied by incumbent Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL). The winner of the March 31 primary runoff will face Jones, but with Trump at the top of the ballot in Alabama.
In 2017, Jones pulled off one of the most unlikely upsets in Alabama political history by defeating then-GOP U.S. Senate nominee Roy Moore. Moore, a participant in Tuesday’s runoff, finished fourth with 7% of the vote.
Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor