Tommy Tuberville defeated Jeff Sessions in Tuesday’s Republican Senate runoff election in Alabama, denying the ex-senator a chance to reclaim his seat, the Associated Press and other news outlets projected.
NBC News has not projected the race result.
The former college football coach will try to unseat Sen. Doug Jones, the most vulnerable Senate Democrat, this fall. Tuberville coasted to victory in the runoff with the support of President Donald Trump, who openly lobbied against Sessions, his former attorney general and an early supporter of his 2016 presidential bid.
Tuberville, a 65-year-old who coached in the state at Auburn University, not only cast himself as an ally of the president but aimed to leverage Trump’s opposition to Sessions. The president has torn into Sessions since 2017, when the then-attorney general recused himself from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election in a decision the president blames for the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller.
In a tweet Tuesday night, Trump said he called Tuberville to congratulate him after the victory. He argued Jones “represents Alabama poorly.”
The president lobbied against Sessions throughout the runoff. In a tweet Saturday urging Alabama Republicans to support Tuberville, Trump called Sessions “a disaster who has let us all down.” Sessions, who during his 20 years in Washington vouched for nativist and anti-immigrant policy that in many ways previewed Trump’s politics, responded that he has “taken the road less travelled” and “not sought fame or fortune.”
“As you know, Alabama does not take orders from Washington,” added the 73-year-old Sessions, who Trump forced out of his administration in 2018.