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Former AG Sessions loses primary bid for U.S. Senate seat

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — Former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions lost the Republican nomination for his old Senate seat in Alabama to former college football coach Tommy Tuberville on Tuesday, likely ending a long political career with a bitter defeat egged on by President Donald Trump.

Tuberville, 65, beat Sessions in Tuesday’s Republican runoff as Sessions fell short in his attempted comeback for a seat he held for two decades before resigning to become Trump’s attorney general in 2017.

Familiar to Alabamians from his decade as Auburn University’s head football coach, Tuberville is now positioned for a robust challenge against Democratic U.S. Sen. Doug Jones. With Alabama’s strong GOP tilt, the seat is widely viewed as Republicans’ best chance for a pickup as they try to maintain their thin Senate majority amid Trump’s lagging popularity nationally.

Sessions, 73, was wounded by Trump’s criticisms after he recused himself in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. The first U.S. senator to endorse Trump during the GOP presidential primary campaign, Sessions insisted throughout the campaign and again Tuesday night in defeat that he was required by law to recuse because he was a potential subject and witness given his campaign ties to the president. “Let me say this about the President and our relationship: I leave with no regrets,” Session said on a small stage at a Mobile, Ala., hotel, with his many grandsons looking on. “I was honored to serve the people of Alabama and I was extraordinarily proud of the accomplishments we had as attorney general.” He repeated that he was right to step away from the investigation. “I did the right thing and I saved the president’s bacon in the process. Any other action to try to squelch an investigation in that environment would not have worked,” he said, adding that it ultimately led to Trump’s exoneration. “I leave elected office with my integrity intact.”

Sessions was gracious to Tuberville, as well, pledging he'd work to help defeat Jones. “He is our Republican nominee,” Sessions said. “We must stand behind him in November.”

Yet Sessions' statements of loyalty to Trump and the party have never been enough for the president, who endorsed Tuberville after Alabama’s March primary. Trump declared on Twitter at the time that Sessions had “let our Country down” and that Tuberville would be the “true supporter of our #MAGA agenda!” He continued the broadsides throughout the primary campaign, and he crowed Tuesday evening on Twitter shortly after The Associated Press called the race for Tuberville.

“Tommy Tuberville WON big against Jeff Sessions,” Trump wrote. “Will be a GREAT Senator for the incredible people of Alabama.''

 

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