Are you ready for a good ol’ fashioned Trump-off?
If not, well, prepare yourself for four weeks of an endless stream of TV ads, radio commercials and candidate interviews in which Jeff Sessions and Tommy Tuberville try to convince you that one of them definitely loves Trump the most.
It’s like “The Bachelor,” except instead of roses you get coronavirus.
This month-long living hell was made possible by Tuberville’s surprise win on Tuesday, taking 33 percent of the vote in a race that Sessions was predicted to win fairly comfortably. A runoff was likely always in the cards, but the conventional wisdom heading into Tuesday was that it would be Tuberville and Bradley Byrne who would be fighting to for second.
Instead, it was Sessions, who has to be wondering just what the hell is going on. How can a guy who held this seat for 20 years, who went to work for Trump as U.S. Attorney General, who has always been the racist, xenophobic representative of Confederate values that so many ALGOP voters cherish, possibly lose to a first-time candidate who just two years ago was cutting videos talking about how much he loves living in Florida?
Rural voters. That’s how.
Sessions did well in Alabama’s major cities, where the GOP establishment resides. His highest vote percentages came in Madison County, and he did well in Montgomery and Mobile.
Tuberville, in the meantime, sucked up votes pretty much everywhere else, except for a small area around Mobile and along the Florida panhandle.
The former football coach, who has never uttered a word of policy ideas or provided a specific plan for doing anything if elected, apparently connected with voters by riding around in a large bus with Trump’s name on the side and telling everyone he was Trump’s best friend.
Apparently, if you’re a struggling farmer or live in a county where your rural hospital just closed, that’s enough to get your vote.
Unless your name is Bradley Byrne.
Byrne tried a similar tactic as Tuberville, invoking Trump’s name as often as possible and then following it with awful comments about decent people.
No one bought it. And now the guy who was once the sane option in the state GOP will be sitting at home with no ID at all.
Sessions will be back in the fight with Tubs, and praying that Trump doesn’t send a tweet about him. Because no matter how much Sessions grovels and begs, it is widely known that Trump hates his little guts with the same white-hot passion Trump normally reserves for exercise and paying his bills. All because this one time Sessions did the appropriate, legal thing and didn’t break the law for the president.
And for that, the rural Alabama voter hates him.
It’s a weird state, man.
Perfect example: Jeff Coleman won the race for Alabama’s 2nd congressional district, but he was forced into a runoff (apparently) by Barry Moore. (Only 96 percent of the vote was in by late Tuesday night.)
If you’re wondering why that’s weird, well, here’s why: It was widely reported during the campaign that Coleman’s moving company was caught defrauding the U.S. military a few years ago and paid $5 million to settle the charges. The details were … quite awful.
Not to be outdone, Moore, a former state representative, was arrested on felony perjury charges a few years ago after prosecutors said he lied during the Mike Hubbard investigation. Moore was eventually acquitted by a jury, but … you know, there’s not guilty and then there’s innocent.
Coleman picked up just under 40 percent in the seven-person race, which would ordinarily be an almost insurmountable advantage. But the voters for the other candidates, and the other candidates themselves, were so united against Coleman, it is unlikely that Coleman can pick up many of them. That could make it a very competitive runoff.
It likely will not be more competitive than the race in the 1st Congressional district, where, at the end of the night, Jerry Carl led Bill Hightower by just over 1,000 votes in a race where almost 100,000 votes were cast.
There was a reason for the split.
Carl is a county commissioner in Baldwin County and a small business owner and entrepreneur, and his website says he wants to build that wall along the southern border. Hightower is a former state senator and successful businessman who is a super-Christian, and his website doesn’t say anything about the wall or Trump or immigrants.
Hightower is more qualified, but he was out-Trumped.
And in this state, where Republicans have ruled for a decade without even a semblance of a plan, that’s all that’s really left.