Trump is a big factor in Tuesday’s primaries as ex-AG Sessions fights for political life in Alabama

While the influence of political backing is always debatable, there is little argument that President Trump’s backing in a Republican primary can make a big difference.

While his record is not perfect (three Trump-backed House candidates have lost the primaries in recent weeks), the President’s support is extremely influential, especially in potential low-turnout contests, such as the Senate second round Tuesday in Alabama and two second round of the House district in Texas.


In Alabama, former US Attorney General Jeff Sessions is fighting for his political life while fighting the president’s anger. Sessions, who served a dozen years as an Alabama senator before becoming Trump’s first attorney general in 2017, angered the president by recusing himself that year from Russia’s investigation into the 2016 election.

Sessions, who was the first Republican senator to endorse Trump in the 2016 presidential election, was ousted as attorney general in November 2018. Since then, he has repeatedly served as a public punching bag for Trump.

And while Sessions, 73, is running for his old Senate job, his rival, first-time politician and former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville, enjoys the backing of the President.

Tuberville does not miss an opportunity to show Trump’s support. His tweet pinned on Twitter is from March, when the president endorsed it. And on the eve of the second round of the Alabama Republican Senate, he tweeted a photo of himself with Trump again.

Sessions emphasizes that it is not up to Washington to dictate the elections in Alabama.

“The president can support whoever he wants,” he said repeatedly. “But the Alabama people will decide this race.”


On Saturday, after Trump tweeted that “Jeff Sessions is a disaster that has disappointed us all. We don’t want him back in Washington! Sessions returned fire: He called Trump’s tweets “youth insults” and emphasized that “Alabama is not taking orders from Washington.”

Sessions told Fox News last week that Tuberville was “hiding from trouble.” It is weak with China. It is weak in trade. It is weak regarding immigration. All three of them, their statements are really worrying. You don’t need to be Alabama’s voice in the United States Senate. I have firmly defended our values. He stopped against hostility. I have been examined. They have come for me. I’m not going backwards. “

Alabama-based veteran Republican political consultant Angi Stalnaker told Fox News: “Jeff Sessions allowed the narrative to turn into Jeff Sessions versus Donald Trump. Tommy Tuberville really has nothing to do with this race. He is not making speeches. He is not having debates. His only argument is that Donald Trump liked me. If a light pole had hit Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump would have backed the light pole. “

And he emphasized that “the Tuberville team will be the beneficiary of that very, very imperfect mistake.”

With the most recent poll suggesting that Tuberville has a double-digit lead over Sessions, a prominent Tuberville supporter recognized the importance of the President’s endorsement.

“Coach Tuberville’s work ethic has gotten him where he is, but the fact that President Trump comes out and supports him has certainly put the wind under his sails because Alabama is Trump’s country,” he told Fox News on Majority Leader of the Alabama House of Representatives Nathaniel Ledbetter.


The winner in Tuesday’s second round will advance to the general election to face Senator Doug Jones, who is the most vulnerable Democrat in the Senate in this year’s general election. As Republicans seek to hang on to their 53-47 majority in the Senate, Alabama may be their only real shot at changing a Democratic seat.

While Trump’s endorsement may be the crucial factor in the second round, Stalnaker noted that “so far, the president is 0-for-2 in Alabama Senate races.” He has never endorsed a Senate candidate in the state of Alabama who won. “

In the 2017 special election to complete the session period as a senator, the president endorsed and campaigned for designated senator Luther Strange, who was defeated in the Republican primaries by conservative Roy Moore.

Two months later, Trump backed Moore, a former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice who faced multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, including one of a girl who was 14 at the time of the alleged assault. Moore denied the allegations.

Top Republicans in Congress called Moore to drop out of the race, and the Republican National Senate Committee refused to support him. Jones narrowly surpassed Moore in the general election to become the first Democrat to win a Senate seat in Alabama in a quarter century.

Trump backs his former doctor

Texas is also holding second-round contests on Tuesday, and at the state’s GOP District 13 Congressional GOP primary where Republican Rep. Mac Thornberry is retiring after 25 years in office, the president backs the former House doctor. Blanca Ronny Jackson.

Trump had previously nominated Jackson for the secretary of Veterans Affairs, but the doctor withdrew from consideration after facing allegations of alcohol abuse and prescription drug abuse. Jackson called the charges “false and untrue”.


Political experts say the president’s support tweet just days before the March primaries helped Jackson reach the second round of elections, which was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Jackson faces Josh Winegarner, a lobbyist for the Texas Livestock Feeders Association, in the second round. Winegarner is backed by Thornberry, as well as other local endorsements. The winner of the second round will be considered the overwhelming favorite in November in a district where Republicans have the advantage.

At the Republican Party primary in District 23 of the Texas Congress, where Republican Representative Will Hurd is retiring, the president endorses Navy veteran Tony Gonzales. So is Hurd, a former CIA officer.

But Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who fought Trump in the 2016 Republican Party GOP presidential primary, has backed Gonzales’ rival in the contest, Air Force veteran Raul Reyes. The winner of the second round will face off in a competitive battle against Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones in the general election.

Democratic clashes

Former Air Force helicopter pilot MJ Hegar has been targeting Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas for months, but he must first earn his party’s Senate nomination.

Hegar, who has the backing of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee and has outraged Cornyn for the last quarter in the campaign cash battle, faces Texas State Senator Royce West of Dallas, who is harnessing political energy in the last two months since protests nationwide against systemic racism caused by the death of George Floyd at the hands of the police.

West, who is black, emphasizes his work in the state legislature on criminal justice reform, including his drafting of a 2015 state law that expanded the use of police cameras.

Tuesday is also the main day in Maine, where the race at the top of the ticket is grabbing headlines.

Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Democratic State, Sara Gideon, who has the backing of national Democrats and who has obtained surprising results in her attempt to overthrow Republican Senator Susan Collins, is the favorite in the Democratic Senate primaries. .

He faces two more progressive rivals: lobbyist Betsy Sweet and attorney Bre Kidman.

Fox News’ Mike Emanuel and Sally persons contributed to this report.

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