Sessions to face Tuberville in Alabama GOP Senate runoff

Sessions to face Tuberville in Alabama GOP Senate runoff
© Stefani Reynolds

Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions advanced to the Republican runoff in his bid to regain his old Senate seat in Alabama.

Sessions will face off against former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville in the March 31 runoff after no Republican candidate earned more than 50 percent of the vote in Tuesday's primary, according to The Associated Press.

Despite Sessions holding the Senate seat for 20 years, the GOP primary race remained close as results came in Tuesday night, with Tuberville and Sessions rotating in and out of first place.

The tight vote count underscores that Sessions could face a tough four-week slog as he tries to lock down the nomination.

Sessions was ousted as attorney general in 2018 after his relationship with President TrumpDonald John TrumpSessions accepts 'Fox News Sunday' invitation to debate, Tuberville declines Priest among those police cleared from St. John's Church patio for Trump visit Trump criticizes CNN on split-screen audio of Rose Garden address, protesters clashing with police MORE soured because of the former senator's decision to recuse himself from the FBI investigation into Russia’s election meddling and the Trump campaign.

Trump’s relationship with Sessions has loomed over the race, but he’s largely kept his distance publicly during the Republican primary. Sessions and Tuberville, as well as Rep. Bradley ByrneBradley Roberts ByrneDemocrats press OSHA official on issuing an Emergency Temporary Standard The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Rep. Zeldin says Congress must help states; Fauci's warning; Dems unveil T bill As the nation turns a corner, time to stop the bleeding MORE (R-Ala.), who finished in third place, touted themselves during the primary as the candidate most aligned with Trump.

Tuberville, speaking to supporters on Tuesday night, referred to Sessions as a "cut and run" politician, an apparent reference to his relationship with Trump.

Whoever wins the runoff election will face off against Democratic Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), who is widely viewed as the most vulnerable Democratic senator.

Jones won his seat in 2017 when he beat GOP Senate nominee Roy MooreRoy Stewart MooreSessions goes after Tuberville's coaching record in challenging him to debate The 10 Senate seats most likely to flip Sessions fires back at Trump over recusal: 'I did my duty & you're damn fortunate I did" MORE, who faced multiple accusations of sexual misconduct with teenage girls when he was in his 30s. Moore also ran again for the party's nomination this year but lost on Tuesday night.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) on Tuesday night referred to both Tuberville and Sessions as "deeply flawed."

"Just like we saw last time, this runoff will extend a bitter, divisive feud while Senator Jones will continue to outraise his Republican opponents and is focused on bringing people together," DSCC spokeswoman Helen Kalla said in a statement.

The Alabama Senate race is ranked by The Cook Political Report as "leans Republican."

Updated at 11:45 p.m.