Alabama Governor Kay Ivey’s postponement of the GOP U.S. Senate run-off because of the China virus might well mean former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions will overcome President Trump’s dismaying endorsement of Establishment cipher Tommy Tuberville [Sessions or Tuberville; who benefits most from Alabama runoff reset? by John Sharp, AL.com, March 22, 2020]? Sessions now has time to regroup. His job: expose Tuberville as a pro-immigration candidate fundamentally opposed to Trump’s patriot position on the border—and play up Sessions’ own much deeper roots in the Yellowhammer State.
A disclaimer: Jeff Sessions and I have been friends since we campaigned together in 1994. He ran for Alabama Attorney General; I ran for Congress. He won; I lost…by 23 votes out of 50,000 cast! I know him well. He hails from Alabama’s Black Belt—named for the region’s rich black soil, not its demographics. He has lived an unblemished moral life. Indeed, Sessions’ Boy Scout rectitude is likely what got him into hot water with Trump and provoked Trump’s otherwise inexplicable endorsement of Tuberville.
A second disclaimer: while I also know and like Rep. Bradley Byrne, who also ran in the March 3 primary, the man of my heart in the race was Judge Roy Moore. I know him well. He is, far and away, the most courageous of the lot. But he has been overwhelmed by lies and propaganda. Moore is no child molester. He has a lovely, lovely wife who I also know. I think of Hitler's infamous "big lie" theory here—say it often enough and they’ll believe any lie. And here it’s the GOP Establishment doing a lot of the lying
It was an awful thing for Trump to endorse Tuberville after the primary. Remember, Sessions courageously endorsed Trump before any other senator dared, and he did so in the uncertain days when the fledgling candidate needed it most.
But then Sessions made a mistake after Trump pulled him out of the Senate to become Attorney General. Out of an abundance of concern with legal propriety and public perception, Sessions recused himself from the sizzling Russia “collusion” case that turned out to be a hoax. Perhaps he should have told Trump before accepting the appointment that he would be duty bound to do this, although it was surely not clear how far the Russia Hoax would be hyped. But he didn’t—and perhaps that was his mistake.
Acting as though Sessions betrayed him, Trump threw a temper tantrum and fired him the day after the 2018 midterm elections. The president has apparently developed a bitter animus toward a man who had always supported him. After the Super Tuesday GOP Senate primary ended in no clear winner and a mandate run-off set for March 31, Trump tweeted gleefully that Sessions got what he deserved:
This is what happens to someone who loyally gets appointed Attorney General of the United States & then doesn’t have the wisdom or courage to stare down & end the phony Russia Witch Hunt. Recuses himself on FIRST DAY in office, and the Mueller Scam begins!
Then he did something worse. He breached Alabama’s border, insinuated himself more deeply in our election, and endorsed Tuberville:
Tommy was a terrific head football coach at Auburn University. He is a REAL LEADER who will never let MAGA/KAG, or our country, down! Tommy will protect your Second Amendment (which is under siege), is strong on Crime and the Border, and truly LOVES our Military and our Vets. He will be a great Senator for the people of Alabama. Coach Tommy Tuberville, a winner, has my Complete and Total Endorsement. I love Alabama!
Problems abound in that tweet, not least Tuberville’s win-loss record. You could say he was successful. But he was hardly a “terrific coach at Auburn.” He had no skills as an offensive coach and egotistically disregarded his assistants who were skilled, which made a mess of the team’s offense. He regularly and publicly demeaned myriad individuals, including his own players! “Terrific coaches” don’t do that. Additionally, significantly, he was stereotypically biased against whites.
Auburn officials, who just grimaced for a while, became increasingly concerned that Tuberville’s deficiencies were not confined to his coaching ability but equally apparent in his lack of diplomacy—which would be most troubling, by the way, in a senator. In 2008, Auburn forced their “terrific coach” to resign [Tommy Tuberville Earned His Fate At Auburn, by Gerald Ball, BleacherReport.com, December 4, 2008].
Tuberville fled the state in ignominy and moved to Florida, where he bought a house, voted, and in all respects became a Floridian. Now he’s back in Alabama.
More importantly, though, is what Tuberville isn’t, regardless of Trump’s assurances that the man he endorsed is good on the hot-button issues such as crime, the Second Amendment, and the military and veterans. How does Trump know all this, given that Tuberville has no record—he’s literally a cipher?
On immigration, though, Tuberville’s record is clear. He’s for more of it. In August, before he recognized the importance that thinking voters place on immigration, he uttered this call for Open Borders in a speech to the Shoals Republican Club:
There are people across the border that need jobs… and we want them to come over here. Let em’ come in and become citizens like we all became citizens.
[Alabama GOP Senate Candidate Wants Illegals to Fill American Jobs, Hires Zuckerberg Cheap Labor Aide, by John Binder, Breitbart, August 19, 2019]
Now, of course, Tuberville is trying to reverse course and tell us he wants to build the wall and keep the illegals out. But it’s too late. Alabamians like me know how he really thinks.
On the other hand, Sessions built a stalwart record when he was in the Senate that earned a career A+ from Numbers USA. He was a leader on border control and illegal immigration and will be again if we re-elect him.
That record is why Sessions can overcome Trump’s endorsement of Tuberville. The effects of that endorsement will decay exponentially; endorsement half-lives are short. One voter poll after that endorsement gave Tuberville a 12-point lead, but yet another showed the two tied [Sessions, Tuberville tied in Alabama runoff: poll, by Rebecca Klar, The Hill, March 10, 2020]. Three or four months is a long time in politics, and by the time the heat of mid-July arrives, Tuberville’s nod from Trump will have cooled considerably.
Sessions has another 90 days to remind voters why they sent him to the Senate to begin with, and hammer home the point that Tuberville is a weak sister on immigration and those America First issues that matter to Alabamians. Indeed, by July, Tuberville might just be another boring—and unemployed—ex-sports figure.
The time is ripe for it, and it would get popular support. And Tuberville will have to respond.
As for Trump, the attack on Sessions and endorsement of Tuberville were puerile acts of vengeance—self-defeating if he actually wants to enact an immigration patriot agenda.
Of course, we shouldn’t turn away from the only president willing, if only implicitly, to defend the Historic American Nation. As politics goes, Donald Trump is a brilliant diamond, but with a visible flaw or two.
Funny thing is, Sessions has a better chance of beating freak Democrat Senator Doug Jones than Tuberville. And Trump, if re-elected, would be better off with the first senator to endorse him in 2016.
My message to Alabamians: Ignore Trump and pull the lever for Sessions on July 14.