When Jeff Sessions left the Senate, he did so to become President Donald Trump’s attorney general.
That could have gone better.
As of Thursday night of this week, he is in the GOP primary race to take back his old Senate seat representing Alabama.
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But — as with an out-of-shape boxer who gets in the ring one more time for the money — some are not sanguine about his chances.
Former GOP colleagues still in the Senate are on board, though.
Eleven of them an Friday afternoon endorsed him for the seat.
Here’s his fellow Alabaman GOP Sen. Richard Shelby backing him.
See this tweet with some more information:
Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby endorses Jeff Sessions for return to the Senate.
— Roll Call (@rollcall) November 8, 2019
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Of course, that sets up Sessions’ primary opponents to crown him as beloved of Washington insiders and incumbent politicians. And that may not play well in populist Alabama.
Then there’s the White House.
The president, not exactly a surprise to anyone, holds grudges. Because Sessions bailed on him on the Mueller investigation, the president has said some negative things over time about his former attorney general — and that’s putting it diplomatically.
But for right now, Trump is playing it close to the vest.
See this exchange, for example:
Question: "Will you endorse Jeff Sessions' Alabama Senate run?"
President Trump: "Well I haven't gotten involved. I saw he said very nice things about me last night, but we'll have to see." pic.twitter.com/8gyaB9frf4
— The Hill (@thehill) November 8, 2019
Some took Sessions’ Senate campaign announcement, in which he went out of his way to defend himself against charges of disloyalty to Trump, as a cowering ploy.
See this comment, for example:
“It’s a hostage tape.”
-Political strategist Guy Cecil on fmr. AG Sessions’ new Senate campaign video, where he focuses on assuring that he supports Pres. Trump.https://t.co/xq96svUFLa
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) November 8, 2019
But initial strategy demanded he do that because he now wants to get elected to statewide office in the reddest of red states, where the president figuratively walks on water.
He also wants to play spoiler to other Republicans — who think Sessions is yesterday’s news and their time has come.
Those candidates include Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.); former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville; Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill; businessman Stanley Adair; and State House member Arnold Mooney.
Out of that lot, the smart money is on Byrne or Tuberville.
Given their name recognition, the White House would no doubt like to see one of them win.
One primary candidate remains to be listed, however — and that’s former State Supreme Court Chief Justice and losing GOP Senate nominee Roy Moore.
Moore’s public support was not quite wide enough to win the state head-to-head against current Dem Sen. Doug Jones in 2017 (he lost only by 21,000 votes).
But if the rest of the current GOP primary field, including Sessions, divides up what’s left after factoring in Moore’s loyal band of voters (he beat the Trump-supported Luther Strange in the GOP primary race in 2017 55 percent to 45 percent), Moore could wedge his way in again and have a hard time with moderate and swing voters against Jones.
Thus an easy GOP pickup becomes problematic.
That possibility, regardless of the support of his former Senate colleagues, will be an albatross around Sessions’ neck.
It will seem his inability to give up the high life of D.C. power is complicating the scenario for Byrne or Tuberville to win in November — and for them to take on Moore in the primary as well.
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