U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby and 10 other Republican senators released a letter Monday endorsing former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ run for the Republican nomination for the Senate seat currently held by Sen. Doug Jones.
“We know Jeff’s character and his temperament,” the letter reads. “We know his commitment to his principles. We know he is a man of his word. And we know he is devoted to serving the people of Alabama,…..We believe Jeff Sessions has more to offer his country, and we believe the United States Senate will be better with his experience and leadership.”
The letter was circulated by Sen. Shelby.
Shelby told reporters a week earlier that he would back Sessions if Sessions were to enter the race for the Senate seat he held from 1997 to 2017.
“Oh yeah, if he runs, I will,” Shelby told the reporters. “He’s always endorsed me. He’s my friend.” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) also voiced his support for his candidacy.”
The letter is signed by Shelby, Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe, Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts, Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi, Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo, Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson, Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, Arkansas Sen. John Boozman, Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson and Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer.
Sessions announced that he would be a Senate candidate Thursday on Fox News in an interview with Tucker Carlson. Sessions qualified on Friday, the last day a candidate could qualify.
Sessions joins an already crowded Republican field.
The Byrne campaign responded to Jeff Sessions being endorsed by the group of Senators:
“After announcing his campaign from D.C., the swamp machine now rolls out support from establishment politicians,” Byrne Campaign Press Secretary Lenze Morris said. “It’s time Jeff comes back to Alabama and realizes things aren’t quite how they once were.”
Morris noted that Byrne is the only candidate in the race with an all 67 county grassroots leadership team and has some endorsements of his own, from folks like: Tallassee Mayor Johnny Hammock, Baldwin County Sheriff Hoss Mack, Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller, and Tuscaloosa County Young Republican President Mason Dyess.
Former Auburn head football Coach Tommy Tuberville attacked Sessions’ entry in the race.
“Jeff Sessions is one of the reasons I decided to get off the sidelines and into the race for Senate,” Tuberville said. “I’m not surprised at all that he’s running again. He’s been out of the swamp for less than two years and now he’s itching to go back. Folks in Alabama know that if we’re going to help President Trump change this country then we’ve got to stop recycling the same old politicians. As Attorney General, Jeff Sessions had his chance to have President Trump’s back and take on the establishment politicians and he failed. I will bring a new voice for Alabama to the Senate and I will always have President Trump’s back.”
The Republican primary will be on March 3.
Republicans have prioritized winning the seat currently held by Doug Jones (D). Sessions held that seat for 20 years, until he was confirmed as U.S. Attorney General. Pres. Donald J. Trump fired Sessions in late 2018.
Doug Jones defeated former Chief Justice Roy Moore (R) in a special election in December 2017, for the vacant seat. Shelby refused to support Moore’s candidacy and urged Republicans to write-in someone else instead of supporting Moore as the GOP nominee. Shelby and Pres. Trump had both endorsed former Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange in the 2017 GOP primary. Moore is also a 2020 Senate candidate.
(Original reporting by Fox News and The Hill contributed to this report.)