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Jeff Sessions jumps into race to reclaim Alabama Senate seat

Laura Litvan, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- Jeff Sessions said he'll run for the Alabama Senate seat that he vacated in 2017 to became President Donald Trump's first U.S. attorney general, a return to politics that could be challenging given his tumultuous relationship with the president.

Sessions, 72, a former top Republican on the Senate Judiciary and Budget panels, easily held onto his seat for two decades, and his entry shakes up the race to defeat Democratic incumbent Doug Jones.

Sessions, who on Thursday night announced his candidacy in a video on his campaign's website, said he remains a strong Trump supporter despite "our ups and downs."

"When I left President Trump's Cabinet," Sessions said on the video, "did I write a tell-all book? No. Did I go on CNN and attack the president? No. Have I said a cross word about President Trump? No.

"And I'll tell you why: First, that would be dishonorable. I was there to serve his agenda, not mine. Second, the president is doing a great job for America and Alabama, and he has my strong support."

Jones, a former federal prosecutor, won a surprise December 2017 special election over Republican Roy Moore, a former Alabama chief justice who became mired in allegations of sexual assault and misconduct that he denied.

 

Jones is the Senate Democrat most seen at risk of losing in 2020. Republicans already in the contest include U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, Secretary of State John Merrill, state Rep. Arnold Mooney, former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville, former televangelist Stanley Adair -- and Moore.

Still, it's not clear that Sessions would win the GOP nomination, given his strained relationship with Trump, according to Jennifer Duffy, Senate editor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. He resigned last November after months of complaints and insults from the president over his recusal from the inquiries into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

"I'm disappointed in the attorney general for many reasons," Trump told reporters about two months before Sessions stepped down.

After Special Counsel Robert Mueller began his investigation, Trump publicly called on Sessions to halt it, an extraordinary break from traditional boundaries between presidents and law enforcement. He also said that he never would have nominated Sessions as attorney general if he knew he would recuse himself.

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