Tuberville, the former Auburn football coach, has conducted a campaign under the radar. In football terminology, we call this “running out of time.” He hasn’t participated in many, if any, media scrums in the past few weeks. His campaign has had to provide statements to questions about Tuberville’s past involvement in a hedge fund in which the former coach’s business partner pleaded guilty to investment fraud and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Tuberville was never criminally charged, but was sued by investors in 2012 and settled the case for an undisclosed amount in 2013.
Sessions says Tuberville, who declined Sessions’ invitations to debate, is neither investigated nor prepared to be a United States senator. Tuberville has had a fundraising edge with the support of the Washington, DC-based Club for Growth.
Cillizza: Donald Trump has made his views on this race VERY clear. How much has Sessions hurt / helped Tuberville?
Acute: According to Morning Consult, before the pandemic occurred, President Donald Trump’s popularity was higher in Alabama than in any other state.
In November, he received a standing ovation while attending a University of Alabama soccer game. He is popular with conservative voters in the state, so his views on this race are important. Analysts I speak with believe that Trump’s support for Tuberville is less important than his opposition to Sessions. In May, Sessions wrote an opinion piece explaining why recusal was the correct course of action for him to take as attorney general. But the president continued to criticize Sessions on Twitter, while promoting Tuberville’s candidacy.
Political observers I speak with believe Sessions has been overly advocating this issue when he should have been trying to sell more to voters. Sessions has said that recusal is the only area where he and Trump disagree. Sessions has reminded voters that he was the first senator to endorse Trump’s 2016 presidential nomination, and that he strongly supports President “America First’s” agenda. Over the weekend, Sessions tweeted to Trump: “As you know, Alabama doesn’t take orders from Washington.”
Trump is 0-2 in his past endorsements during Alabama Senate contests: he lost to Luther Strange before the 2017 Republican Party second round against Roy Moore. He then endorsed Moore in the general election, which Doug Jones won.
Cillizza: Is this correctly seen as a referendum on Trump because he has been so involved? As if Sessions wins, is that a message for Trump?
Acute: I haven’t heard if a Sessions victory would be a referendum on Trump. Sessions, in addition to the issue of recusal, praised Trump and his agenda while on the campaign trail.
The President did not physically participate in this race as he did during the 2017 Special Election Contest when he campaigned in Huntsville for Luther Strange (the speech was best remembered as the first time the President addressed the kneeling American football players of the NFL), and joined Roy Moore days before the general election in Pensacola, Florida.
The president did not hold a rally for Tuberville before the second lap, so his participation in the race has been centralized on Twitter. Alabama Republicans have been torn apart by the Trump-Sessions dispute. Sessions was a popular senator among Alabama Republicans from 1997 to 2017. The last time Sessions ran, in 2014, he won unopposed in the primaries. Just a couple of years ago, Alabama Republicans were proud that Sessions became attorney general. It is rare for someone in this state to get so close to the line of succession for the presidency. The state has had a longtime vice president (William Rufus King, who served six weeks before his death in 1853), a House speaker (William Bankhead from 1936-40), and longtime California resident Condoleezza Rice. from Birmingham. Secretary of state.
Cillizza: Lou Saban. Does it matter to voters at all?
Acute: I haven’t heard it matter. The president spoke “Lou Saban” during the remarks he made in support of Tuberville last night, on the eve of the election. He asked journalists in Alabama to search for the name, “Lou Saban,” who turned out to be a prolific football coach during an amazing six-decade career. He was the AFL Coach of the Year in 1964, while leading the Buffalo Bills. But I have checked your stats and I don’t see any Alabama football connection to this Saban.
The other Saban, the University of Alabama football head coach Nick Saban, is well known in his own right. The Republican Party campaign strategist and candidates in Alabama will sometimes say that the only endorsement that matters more than the current president is one of Nick Saban. And I don’t feel like Nick Saban is getting involved in Alabama politics right now, if he ever is.
Cillizza: Finish this sentence: “Doug Jones is supporting ________ to win tonight.” Now explain.
Acute: If you talk to the Sessions campaign and some political analysts in this state, they will say Tuberville because he has not been investigated and is a political novice. They will point to some questions about Tuberville’s past that include residency: Tuberville declared a housing exemption on his Florida property in 2018 and had been a registered voter in the Sunshine State. The Tuberville campaign has pointed out that the former coach He had been paying property taxes in Alabama since Auburn’s training days. The hedge fund disclosure and concerns about the handling of a soccer player accused of sexual assault in 1999 have also entered the campaign in recent weeks.
Alabama Republicans also remain concerned about 2017, when revelations about Roy Moore’s past involvement with teenage girls emerged a month before the election through a Pulitzer Prize-winning story in The Washington Post. The other American senator from Alabama, Richard Shelby, urged Republicans to write a candidate. Behold, the number of written ballots played a key role in Jones’ victory.
The sessions, supporters say, are scrutinized while Tuberville is not. But Alabama is a reliable stronghold of the Republican Party. It may not matter who wins tonight. In 2018, the same year Democrats performed well across the country, Republicans won all state contests in Alabama by comfortable margins. Analysts believe the Alabama Senate contest is the only likely opportunity for Republicans to claim a Senate seat from a Democrat in November. Cook’s Political Report calls the races held by Republican senators “jolts” in Arizona, Colorado, Maine, Montana and North Carolina. The stakes are high for Republicans to win this race and not see a repeat of 2017. The Senate Leadership Fund and other influential Republican Party groups like the US House play a role in the Alabama East race fall. Jones, according to most analysts, will be the underdog. Furthermore, he was the loser throughout the 2017 contest.