WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump isn’t committing to supporting his former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, or any other candidate, in the Alabama Senate seat.
He did say he won’t campaign against Sessions.
Sessions announced Thursday he wants to reclaim his old Senate seat from Alabama, where he’s been a conservative icon and dominant vote-getter since the 1990s.
He spent more than a decade representing Alabama in the Senate before stepping down to serve as Trump’s attorney general. He was an early endorser of Trump.
But the president soured on Sessions after he recused himself from an investigation into Russia interference in the 2016 election.
Trump says, “We’ll see how it all goes.”
He adds that Sessions has “tough competition” in the Republican primary, noting the candidacy of former football coach Tommy Tuberville. U.S. Rep Bradley Byrne, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill and former state Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore are also vying for the nomination.
There are early indications that he may not have robust help from former GOP Senate colleagues, either.
“The people in Alabama will figure this out,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told The Associated Press on Thursday when asked if it’s a good idea for Sessions to run. “We do want to get that seat back, and I’m hopeful we will.”
Sessions, 72, announced his 2020 run on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” which touted Sessions’ appearance as his first national television interview since he resigned from the Trump administration in November 2018.
“If I return to the Senate, no senator in the Senate would be more effective in advancing President Trump’s agenda than I would,” Sessions told Carlson.
Sessions was senator from 1997 until becoming Trump’s first attorney general in 2017.
Democrat Doug Jones won the seat from the deep-red state in a special election later that year, defeating Republican Roy Moore, the right-wing lightning rod who faced allegations of sexual misconduct.
Jones is the most vulnerable Senate Democrat facing reelection next year. Both sides see the battle over the Alabama seat as crucial as Republicans fight to retain the majority in the chamber, which they now control 53-47.
Trump turned on Sessions because Sessions recused himself from the investigation into Russia’s connections with Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.