Sessions leads GOP Senate primary field in Alabama, internal poll shows

Former U.S. Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsMcCabe, Rosenstein spar over Russia probe Rosenstein takes fire from Republicans in heated testimony Rosenstein defends Mueller appointment, role on surveillance warrants MORE holds a wide lead in the race for the Republican Senate nomination in Alabama, according to an internal poll commissioned by Sessions’ campaign. 

The survey, conducted from Dec. 3-5 by the Republican firm On Message Inc., shows Sessions notching 44 percent support among likely Republican primary voters in Alabama. 

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No other candidate is within striking distance. Tommy Tuberville, the former head football coach at Auburn University, came in a distant second place with 21 percent support, while Rep. Bradley ByrneBradley Roberts ByrneOvernight Defense: Pentagon chief says he opposes invoking Insurrection Act for protests | White House dodges on Trump’s confidence in Esper | ‘Angry and appalled’ Mattis scorches Trump Republicans stand by Esper after public break with Trump Democrats press OSHA official on issuing an Emergency Temporary Standard MORE (R-Ala.) finished third with 14 percent support. No other candidate registered in double digits, according to the poll. 


The poll was first reported on Tuesday by the Alabama news website Yellowhammer News. 

Sessions, who held the Senate seat for 20 years before becoming President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE’s attorney general in 2017, launched a bid to recapture the seat last month and quickly emerged among the frontrunners for the Republican nomination to challenge Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) in the 2020 general election.

Jones, who won a long-shot special election to fill Sessions’s seat in 2017, is widely seen as one of the most vulnerable incumbent senators up for reelection in 2020. Alabama is among the most conservative states in the country, and Republicans see Jones’s victory there two years ago as a fluke – more the result of a flawed GOP contender than a winning Democratic message.

The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan election handicapper, currently rates the Alabama Senate race as a “toss up.”

The internal poll from Sessions’ campaign shows the former attorney general with the highest favorability of any Republican in the race – 71 percent, compared to 50 percent for Tuberville and 37 percent or Byrne. In a memo, pollster Wes Anderson said that Sessions’ favorability isn’t limited to any one region of Alabama. “Rather Sessions is strong in every corner of the state,” Anderson wrote.

The poll surveyed 700 likely Republican primary voters by telephone from Dec. 3-5. It has a margin of error of +/-3.7 percentage points.