Following the 2020 Alabama Senate runoff on the Republican side, we know former senator and US attorney general Jeff Sessions will not be heading back to Washington. However, former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville might be on his way.
Tuberville defeated Sessions in a landslide win in the long-awaited July 14 runoff, setting up a date with Sen. Doug Jones (D) in the November election. We all recall how Jones pulled a massive upset over Roy Moore (R) in the 2017 Senate special election; this vacancy was caused by Sessions stepping down to become Donald Trump’s attorney general. Now, Jones is the incumbent, and it’s not Sessions on the general election ballot to try to win back the seat.
This runoff was postponed for months following the March 3 primary due to the pandemic.
2020 Alabama Senate Runoff Results
With almost all precincts reporting in Alabama, Coach Tuberville cruised to victory over Jeff Sessions by a 61 to 39 percent margin. Tuberville carried all but three counties in the state: Madison, Mobile, and Wilcox.
Notably, Tuberville carried not only Auburn University’s county (Lee), but also the University of Alabama’s county, Tuscaloosa. He led with 53 percent in Tuscaloosa County and 72 percent in Lee. Old football rivalries die hard, but it appears even Crimson Tide fans may be getting behind the idea of supporting Tuberville in red Alabama.
2020 Alabama Senate Runoff Fast Analysis
We start the general election campaign with the Alabama Senate race remaining a strong lean for Tuberville, which may be the Republicans’ only pickup of the cycle if it happens. Doug Jones has been the underdog in his re-election campaign since the minute he was sworn in, and that is unchanged today.
Let’s talk about the implosion of Sessions. He went from a favored ally of Donald Trump to a massive fall from grace. Thanks in large part to the Russia investigation, Trump made his disgust with Sessions clear during the campaign. The support of Trump boosted Tuberville, and we know where Tuberville is in this race. We summed up the situation succinctly on our Twitter feed on election night:
The #ALSen numbers are just ugly for Sessions. Dude won four Senate races in AL and was the AG of the United States…and is getting his ass kicked, 61-39%.
— Electionarium (@Electionarium) July 15, 2020
Make no mistake: this was a horrible, if not unexpected, result for Sessions.
Falling out of Trump’s favor also helped Sessions fall from Republican favor. Had Sessions won, it would have played to Jones’ advantage given how strongly a president of his own party has opposed him. Now, Tuberville is going to run on the GOP ticket in a year in which Donald Trump will win Alabama. The bottom line might not be sterling in November, but it’s enough for Jones to have legitimate reason to believe (as he has from the start) that he will be a temporary senator.
Other Alabama Runoff Results
Jerry Carl appears on his way to Congress by winning the GOP runoff in Alabama-01. He defeated Bill Hightower by a 52 to 48 margin in this safe Gulf Coast seat.
Barry Moore took home a comfortable win in the Alabama-02 GOP runoff against Jeff Coleman. Moore touted the Club for Growth endorsement, while outgoing Rep. Martha Roby (R) endorsed Coleman.1
Texas Runoff Results
In the Democratic Senate runoff, MJ Hegar headed for victory in a race too close to call for much of the evening. She led Royce West by a 52 to 48 margin at about the three-quarter count. West won his home county of Dallas in a landslide but was in a close race in Houston’s Harris County. Hegar claimed solid wins in Bexar County (San Antonio), Travis County (Austin), and El Paso County.
The winner of this runoff faces Sen. John Cornyn (R) in November. Electionarium recently downgraded this Senate race from Safe Republican to Strong Lean Republican.
Ronny Jackson won the Republican runoff in Texas-13 for the chance to succeed Mac Thornberry (R). Jackson’s margin over Josh Winegarner came in at 56 to 44 percent. This is one of the reddest districts in the nation, meaning he is nearly assured victory in November.
While one Sessions did not do well on July 14, another did. The comeback bid is on for Pete Sessions (R), who won the GOP runoff in Texas-17. He lost his prior seat, the 32nd District, to Colin Allred in 2018. His new congressional district is much more favorable to the Republicans, giving him a solid chance of returning to Congress in January 2021. Sessions defeated Renee Swann by a 54 to 46 margin.
The Republican runoff between Raul Reyes and Tony Gonzales in Texas-23 is too close to call, with only about six-tenths of a point separating the two candidates. The winner faces Gina Ortiz (D) in the Fall, in an election the Democrats hope to win as a result of the retirement of Will Hurd (R).
Democrats nominated Candace Valenzuela in Texas-24. She defeated Kim Olson, the primary’s first-place finisher, in the runoff by a 60 to 40 percent margin. This open seat will see Valenzuela face Beth Van Duyne (R) in November. Republicans still hope to hold this DFW-area seat with Kenny Marchant retiring; while Donald Trump won it in 2016, Beto O’Rourke carried it in 2018.
Maine Primary Results
As expected, the Maine Senate race against Susan Collins (R) is set. Sara Gideon, speaker of the Maine House, won the Democratic primary in a landslide over two opponents.
Maine’s 2nd District GOP primary was led by Dale Crafts in the late going. The state uses Australian-style ranked-choice voting, but only if no candidate achieves a first-ballot majority. With Crafts under 50 percent against two other candidates, he will have to see how Eric Brakey’s preferences distribute. However, he has a 15-point lead over Adrienne Bennett and she would need to capture over 80 percent of Brakey’s votes to catch Crafts. The winner gets freshman Democrat Jared Golden in November.
July 14 Election References
1: Brian Lyman, “Voter’s guide to the 2nd Congressional District GOP runoff between Jeff Coleman, Barry Moore,” Montgomery Advertiser, July 13, 2020, Montgomery Advertiser Link)