Ex-Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville tops Jeff Sessions in Alabama primary

Tommy Tuberville wins Alabama senatorial runoff against Jeff Sessions

Former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville took a big step in his quest to become Alabama’s next U.S. senator on Tuesday, defeating Jeff Sessions in a runoff for the Republican nomination.

Tuberville, 65, a political novice who was backed by President Donald Trump, defeated Sessions, a former U.S. senator from Alabama who served as Trump’s attorney general in 2017, AL.com reported.

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Tuberville will face Sen. Doug Jones, who ran unopposed in the Democratic primary, in November.

Sessions was the first U.S. senator to endorse Trump for president in 2016, but the relationship soured after Sessions recused himself from an investigation into Russian interference in the election, the Montgomery Advertiser reported. The move angered Trump, who attacked Sessions before firing him in November 2018.

Tuberville patterned his tactics after current Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, running a low-profile campaign and avoiding news conferences, the newspaper reported.

The runoff was originally scheduled for March 31 but was postponed until July by Ivey because of the coronavirus pandemic, WBMA reported.

In 21 seasons as a college football coach, Tuberville compiled a 159-99 record, taking 13 teams to bowl games and winning seven postseason games. He coached at Auburn from 1999 to 2008, taking the Tigers to eight bowl games and winning five of them. His mark with the Tigers was 85-40.

Tuberville began his coaching career at the University of Mississippi before replacing Terry Bowden at Auburn. After his stint with the Tigers, Tuberville coached three years at Texas Tech and four years at Cincinnati.

Trump tweeted congratulations to Tuberville on Tuesday night, posting that the former coach “will be a great senator for the incredible people of Alabama.”