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Jeff Sessions loses Alabama Senate runoff to Tommy Tuberville

Jeff Sessions loses bid for Senate seat
Jeff Sessions loses bid for Senate seat 09:24

Jeff Sessions has lost the primary runoff to get the Republican nomination for his old Senate seat, the Associated Press reported. Former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville, who had President Trump's support, defeated Sessions on Tuesday night. 

Tuberville will take on Democrat Doug Jones in November. The seat is considered the Democrats' most vulnerable Senate seat, since it is in deep-red Alabama.   

Mr. Trump tweeted about the race shortly after it was called, writing that Tuberville "WON big" and predicted he will be a "GREAT Senator."

These were tame comments from Mr. Trump, who has insulted Sessions throughout the race. Over the weekend, Mr. Trump tweeted "Jeff Sessions is a disaster who has let us all down." 

Mr. Trump fired Sessions from his role as attorney general after the 2018 midterms, although that didn't stop Sessions from highlighting his ties to Mr. Trump throughout the campaign. Sessions also tried to remind voters he was running against Tuberville, a political newcomer, and not Mr. Trump. 

Sessions first made national headlines in 1986 when President Reagan nominated him to be a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama. During his confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, four lawyers who worked with Sessions said during he had made racist comments, including calling the NAACP "un-American." He apologized for once joking that he thought the Klu Klux Klan was "OK until I found out they smoked pot." The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 10-8 against his nomination, which made him the first district court nominee in more than 30 years to not be confirmed.

Sessions was first elected to the Senate in 1996, and later would serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

Sessions was the first Republican senator to publicly back then-candidate Donald Trump in 2015, and campaigned enthusiastically for him. Mr. Trump rewarded Sessions for his loyalty by nominating him for attorney general. He was confirmed by a razor-thin margin of 52-47 in the Senate, almost entirely along party lines. But Sessions did not disclose his contact with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during Mr. Trump's campaign when asked at his confirmation hearing about contacts between the campaign and the Russian government. 

As a result, he recused himself from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, leading to the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller. Mr. Trump never forgave Sessions for the recusal. 

Sessions announced in November 2019 that he would be seeking his old Senate seat, which was picked up by Jones in a special election in December 2017 after a series of local — and then national — scandals. Former Governor Robert Bentley appointed Luther Strange, who had been the state attorney general investigating Bentley, to Sessions' vacated seat. Bentley, who was on the brink of impeachment, resigned shortly after appointing Strange. Both men denied any wrongdoing.   

Strange went on to lose the Republican primary to former State Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore, a controversial political figure who had been removed from the bench twice before winning the primary runoff. Then, just weeks before the special December election, Moore was accused of sexual misconduct against several girls who were underage at the time of the alleged misconduct. Buoyed by surprisingly strong turnouts among Democrats and African Americans, as well as solid support from younger voters, moderates and women, Jones eked out a close victory over Moore. 

Jones is the only Democrat to hold statewide office in deep-red Alabama, a state Mr. Trump won by 28 points in 2016.

In May, Mr. Trump and Sessions had a weekend-long spat on Twitter. Mr. Trump urged Alabamans "do not trust Jeff Sessions," saying "he let our country down." Sessions responded "look I know your anger, but recusal was required by law," and wrote "Alabama can and does trust me, as do conservatives across the country." 

Mr. Trump later tweeted that Sessions had "no courage" and "ruined many lives" by choosing to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. Sessions responded that he would "never apologize for following the law and serving faithfully and with honor." Sessions also wrote that he recommended firing former FBI director James Comey "from the beginning." He then called Tuberville "weak," alleging that Tuberville didn't want to debate him. "You and I fight for the same agenda," Sessions wrote. "Alabama will not take orders from Washington on who to send to the Senate."

Grace Segers and Ed O'Keefe contributed to this report. 

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