Former college football coach Tommy Tuberville has ousted Democratic Sen. Doug Jones from his U.S. Senate seat in Alabama.
The New York Times called the race just after 10:00 p.m. with 34% of precincts reporting on Tuesday night. Tuberville was favored to win the seat in the deep red state. Before Jones, the seat belonged to former Sen. Jeff Sessions, who resigned from the Senate to serve as President Trump’s attorney general.
According to RealClearPolitics, Tuberville has led Jones by no less than 8 points for the length of the race, and the latest poll conducted by Auburn University favored Tuberville to win the race by 11 points. The Cook Political Report classified Alabama’s Senate race as “Lean Republican.”
Tuberville campaigned as a close ally to Trump throughout the general election, while Jones tried to position himself as a moderate candidate. The GOP has focused on fighting to keep the Senate under Republican control throughout the election, especially if the White House should flip to Democratic nominee Joe Biden. The Alabama seat has been viewed as a likely win to give the GOP breathing room against tough Democratic opponents gunning for more vulnerable GOP senators in other states.
Tuberville beat Sessions in the GOP primary as Trump’s former attorney general fought to reclaim his old Senate seat. Sessions was an early ally to Trump during the president’s 2016 campaign but had a falling out with the president over the Department of Justice’s inquiry into Russian collusion in the 2016 election.
Trump forced Sessions to resign after Sessions recused himself from the Justice Department’s investigation. The investigation was taken up by special counsel Robert Mueller, who investigated Trump and his campaign over allegations that it colluded with Russian agents to influence the 2016 election. Trump was a vocal critic of the investigation and Mueller, characterizing it as a “witch hunt.” The president was eventually vindicated after Mueller found no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian agents.
Tuberville overcame Sessions when he tried to reclaim the seat he left. Trump endorsed Tuberville over the former attorney general and once-ally during the Republican primary, and Alabama voters delivered for the president, setting Tuberville on a trajectory favored to eventually sit in the Senate.
Jones won a special election against Republican candidate Roy Moore in 2017 after Sessions vacated the seat to work in the Trump administration. Moore lost the election after numerous allegations of him having inappropriate sexual interactions with young women surfaced in the press. The seat was considered a significant upset pulled off by the Democrats.
Trump endorsed Moore to win the seat at the time, but turned on the GOP candidate later, tweeting on May 29, 2019: “If Alabama does not elect a Republican to the Senate in 2020, many of the incredible gains that we have made during my Presidency may be lost, including our Pro-Life victories. Roy Moore cannot win, and the consequences will be devastating….Judges and Supreme Court Justices!”
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