To almost nobody’s surprise, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions has announced that he intends to run for his old senate seat in the 2020 elections, according to the Hill. Sessions is already busily hiring staff and intends to come out forcefully in support of President Donald Trump and his agenda. The problem is that a feud between the two men has existed since Sessions’ tenure as Attorney General.
Sessions has been on the outs with the president ever since he recused himself from oversight of the Mueller investigation into alleged Russian collusion with the Trump 2016 campaign. Sessions made that decision because of his involvement in that campaign. The decision did not sit well with Trump, who eventually forced Sessions out of his administration. Even though the Mueller probe eventually found nothing, Newsweek is reporting that Trump has threatened that he would openly attack Sessions if he runs for the Senate.
For Sessions to get a shot at the general election against Democrat Doug Jones, he first must prevail in a crowded primary.
“Sessions would be joining a crowded primary field that includes Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.), former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, businessman Stanley Adair, state Rep. Arnold Mooney and Roy Moore, the 2017 GOP nominee who lost to Sen. Doug Jones (D) in the special election to fill Sessions’s former seat.”
Besides having to deal with the president’s unhappiness with him, Sessions also does not have the blessing of Republican power brokers, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The theory is that Sessions’ feud with the president is one more complication to deal with as the Republicans seek to preserve and, hopefully, expand their Senate majority.
Trump’s preferred candidate in Tommy Tuberville, according to Hot Air. Tuberville is running as a Trump loyalist. He has also cast aspersions on Sessions, claiming that he had lacked the courage to stand with Trump.
Hot Air also suggests that the Alabama senate race contains some minefields for the president if he chooses to go all-in against Sessions.
“It’s possible that Sessions would win the primary despite Trump’s opposition, as the field is currently split five different ways and Sessions doubtless still enjoys some support in a state where he spent years winning elections. If Trump tried to stop him and lost — a test of strength in a ‘Trump state’ — it’d be a total humiliation.”
The worst development for the president and, indeed, Republicans, in general, would be if Roy Moore were to win the primary. Moore, who had been the nominee in the special election in 2017, lost to Doug Jones because of revelations that he had pursued teenage girls when he was well into his thirties. Moore’s fraught sexual history only came to light after the primary, when it was too late.
Observers of Alabama’s political scene are pretty sure that any Republican not named Roy Moore will easily win the general election. Doug Jones’ election was a fluke, brought on by his great luck in having faced a deeply flawed Republican candidate. If it’s Sessions, Hot Air has some more analysis.
“Meanwhile, if Sessions did win the primary despite Trump’s opposition, Trump would be in a bind. Does he turn around and endorse Sessions in the general election against Doug Jones, which would be awkward and embarrassing for him? Or does he remain spitefully silent and risk having Trumpers boycott the general election to punish Sessions, risking an improbable Doug Jones reelection victory?”
Hot Air judges the probability of the president staying out of at least the primary as about nil. He harbors too much bitterness about the Mueller investigation that took up a great deal of the current term, ironically turning up nothing. Trump feels that Session could have squelched the investigation in its infancy and has judged his refusal to do so a sign of disloyalty.
The wait for Sessions had held the Republican primary contest frozen like a fly in amber. The big-money donors have been keeping their wallets shut until Sessions pulls the trigger. Sessions begins that contest with $2.5 million in the bank, a significant advantage.