On Saturday, Tommy Tuberville — who became a national name during his ten-year highly successful run as the head football coach at Auburn University, during which time his team pulled off a perfect season but was famously left out of the BCS National Championship Game — announced his candidacy for U.S. Senate to represent Alabama in 2020. The seat is currently filled by Democrat Doug Jones, who narrowly edged out scandal-plagued Republican Roy Moore in the 2017 special election to fill the seat vacated by Jeff Sessions after President Trump named him attorney general.
"After more than a year of listening to Alabama’s citizens, I have heard your concerns and hopes for a better tomorrow. I am humbled to announce the next step — I will be a @GOP candidate for US Senate. I invite you to join my team," Tuberville announced on Twitter Saturday, notably including the MAGA hashtag at the end of the tweet: "#TeamTommy #ALSen #MAGA."
The tweet links to his campaign site, TommyForSenate, which reiterates the announcement and invites supporters to sign up and volunteer.
After making his head coaching debut at Ole Miss, where he coached for four seasons (1995-98) and went 25-20 (.556), Tuberville was named head coach of Auburn, where he spent nearly half of his 21-year coaching career and won at the highest percentage of his career. He took over as head coach of Auburn in 1999 and stayed through the 2008 season, during which time he went 85-40 (.680) and led the team to eight straight winning seasons, including one undefeated season in 2004 (undefeated USC and undefeated Oklahama played for the BCS National Championship that year; Auburn ended up ranked 2nd after winning its bowl game). Tuberville went on to be the head coach of Texas Tech for three years (2010-2012) and Cincinnati for four (2013-16). Over the entirety of his head coaching career, he won at a rate of just over 60%, 159-99 (.616).
Should he win the primary, Tuberville's Democratic opponent would be incumbent Doug Jones, who only managed to defeat embattled Republican Roy Moore by a margin of 1.5% (49.9-48.4) despite Moore's disastrous campaign that was characterized by a series of deeply damaging accusations which prompted a massive rift among Republicans.
While the 2017 contest was a special election that included a divisive Republican candidate, the 2020 presidential election will inevitably draw more voters, which will likely benefit Republicans, as there is strong support among Alabama voters for Trump — in fact, the state has consistently been among the strongest in Trump support in the nation.
Tuberville will be facing off against Republican Congressman Bradley Byrne, who announced his candidacy for the seat two months ago. Byrne currently represents Alabama's first congressional district.
Byrne, a former Democrat, made clear when he announced in February that he supports President Trump. "So far, I don’t know of anything where he and I fundamentally disagree," he said of the president, though he did express concern about some of his trade policies. Doug Jones, however, he said, "is against building the wall." Byrne also stressed his pro-life and pro-gun record, contrasting that with Jones.
Prior to the scandalous special election, Sessions had held the seat for two decades.
H/T Karen Townsend.