Republican Tommy Tuberville, former football coach at Auburn University, will defeat Senator Doug Jones (D., Ala.), the Associated Press projected on Tuesday evening.
Jones, the first Democratic senator in the state since 1997, replaced former Alabama senator Jeff Sessions, who left to serve as U.S. attorney general after being nominated by President Trump. Jones was widely considered to be the most vulnerable incumbent senator given that, in his win in the 2017 special election, he faced a uniquely compromised candidate in Republican Roy Moore, who was accused of sexually assaulting minors decades earlier.
Sessions later earned Trump’s ire by recusing himself during the Mueller investigation, and the president fired Sessions in November 2018.
Although Sessions entered the 2020 Senate primary, Trump continued to disparage the former attorney general and endorsed Tuberville in his place. After Sessions failed to win the primary outright and faced off against Tuberville in a runoff vote, Trump wrote on Twitter, “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.”
Tuberville defeated Sessions in the runoff, with the former coach gaining 60.7 percent of the vote to Sessions’s 39.3 percent.
The election of Tuberville could help ease Republican fears of losing their Senate majority, which currently stands at 53-47. Colorado Republican Cory Gardner was defeated on Tuesday by former governor John Hickenlooper, and North Carolina Republican Thom Tillis is locked in a tight race with challenger Cal Cunningham.
However, Senator Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) is projected to win reelection after a challenge by Democrat Jaime Harrison, who was tied with Graham in October polls.