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As Sessions considers campaign, rivals emphasize Trump feud

Jeff Sessions | Photo: MGN Online

As Jeff Sessions explores a campaign to reclaim the Senate seat he held for 20 years, he's finding much has changed since he left — namely, President Donald Trump.

Posted: Oct 30, 2019 4:55 PM

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — As Jeff Sessions explores a campaign to reclaim the Senate seat he held for 20 years, he's finding much has changed since he left — namely, President Donald Trump.

His potential Republican primary rivals said Tuesday that they would not clear the field for the former senator and signaled they were ready to use his tumultuous tenure as Trump's attorney general against him. Trump has called Sessions "the biggest mistake" of his presidency and some candidates for the Senate seat have suggested they would not let voters forget it.

Former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville said in a statement that Sessions "had a chance to stand and defend the President and he failed."

"If the voters of Alabama want a career politician as their next U.S. Senator, then they have plenty of choices. If they want a political outsider who will stand with President Trump and fight the DC establishment when it matters the most, then I am the only choice," Tuberville said.

The Associated Press reported Monday that multiple Republican sources say Sessions is making calls exploring a possible run for his former Senate seat. The three Republicans spoke on condition of anonymity so they could speak more freely about closely held conversations.

Sessions represented Alabama in the U.S. Senate from 1997 to 2017 and left the Senate to become Trump's first attorney general. He was later ousted after enduring repeated public mocking from Trump for recusing himself from special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. In a state where the president is largely beloved, the bitter breakup between Sessions and the president could be a liability.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne told the AP that he will "absolutely" stay in the race if Sessions becomes a candidate.

"The president does not want him to be the U.S. senator for Alabama. I know," Byrne said. Asked if he has talked to Trump about this, Byrne replied: "I know. And I don't think a state like Alabama that's so pro-President Trump is going to react favorably to someone who's running as the president's opposition."

Byrne said he spoke to Sessions last week for less than 10 minutes but declined to disclose the subject of the private conversation.

Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who lost the 2017 special election to Sen. Doug Jones, said he will stay in the 2020 race regardless of what Sessions decides.

Despite the criticism from Trump, Sessions has continued to praise the president.

In a speech earlier this month at a Republican Party fundraiser in Huntsville, Sessions reiterated his support for Trump even as he joked about life after being "fired" from a job. Sessions praised Trump's effort on trade, immigration and foreign policy.

"That's why I supported him and why I still do support him," Sessions told the crowd of about 500. "He is relentlessly and actually honoring the promises he made to the American people."

Sessions has $2.4 million in a campaign account, according to campaign finance records. Byrne, the best-financed Republican in the race, has about $2.5 million cash on hand.

Sessions, who was state attorney general before being elected to the Senate, also has more than two decades of support from Alabama voters.

"I suspect Sessions would become an immediate front-runner if he were to enter the race," said David Hughes, a political scientist at Auburn University in Montgomery.

"We know from past experience in the 2017 U.S. Senate special primary that Republican voters are willing to buck the president's preferences. And Sessions has done little to distance himself from Trump. I have no a priori reason to believe state Republicans have turned on Sessions," Hughes said.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 38567

Reported Deaths: 1290
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds318859
DeSoto211220
Madison158940
Jones126651
Harrison126017
Rankin123420
Forrest110544
Neshoba105978
Lauderdale98383
Scott84315
Jackson82820
Washington80615
Copiah69616
Leake66420
Lee66223
Grenada64713
Oktibbeha64428
Lamar6257
Warren61622
Holmes61442
Leflore58856
Wayne58819
Yazoo5847
Lowndes56917
Sunflower5659
Lincoln54436
Pike53724
Lafayette5364
Panola5176
Monroe49139
Simpson4803
Covington4735
Bolivar46318
Tate43113
Pontotoc4066
Attala39424
Adams39221
Newton38410
Marion36312
Pearl River32332
Claiborne32212
Winston31413
Chickasaw31319
Marshall3104
Jasper3016
Walthall29210
Noxubee2869
Clay27411
Union26611
Smith26312
Coahoma2516
Clarke24125
Tallahatchie2394
Lawrence2222
Yalobusha2169
Montgomery1973
Carroll19611
Kemper18914
Calhoun1875
Humphreys18410
Itawamba1638
Hancock16214
Tippah15411
Webster13611
Jefferson1353
Prentiss1344
George1313
Jefferson Davis1304
Tunica1293
Greene12510
Tishomingo1251
Amite1243
Alcorn1232
Quitman1111
Wilkinson1079
Perry994
Stone852
Choctaw794
Franklin602
Benton580
Sharkey540
Issaquena111
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 58225

Reported Deaths: 1183
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson7449176
Mobile5349157
Montgomery4732118
Madison290112
Tuscaloosa283754
Marshall213313
Shelby188027
Lee179337
Baldwin149912
Morgan14897
DeKalb11457
Etowah113614
Walker113537
Elmore111825
Dallas103312
Franklin97016
Unassigned84228
Russell7610
Autauga74318
Limestone7254
Cullman7136
Chambers69932
Houston6848
St. Clair6714
Lauderdale6647
Tallapoosa66272
Butler65931
Calhoun6426
Colbert6138
Escambia56212
Jackson5113
Pike5016
Lowndes49723
Coffee4734
Covington45214
Talladega4517
Dale4283
Barbour4263
Bullock38110
Marengo38111
Hale37523
Chilton3693
Blount3671
Marion35514
Clarke3396
Wilcox3328
Winston3167
Sumter30613
Randolph28610
Monroe2833
Pickens2827
Perry2702
Conecuh2558
Bibb2382
Macon2359
Choctaw22112
Greene2029
Washington1679
Henry1653
Lawrence1590
Crenshaw1433
Cherokee1407
Geneva1100
Lamar961
Clay942
Fayette923
Coosa681
Cleburne621
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