Former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville defeated ex-US Attorney General Jeff Sessions in Tuesday night’s runoff for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate.
Tuberville, who was making his first run for public office, will face Democrat Doug Jones in November.
The Associated Press called the race at 8:19 p.m., a little more than an hour after polls closed. With 774 of 2,281 precincts reporting, unofficial results show Tuberville garnered 88,015 votes – or 62% – to Sessions’ 53,277 or 38%.
The race pitted Tuberville – who was backed by President Donald Trump – vs. Sessions, who left the Senate before being named the Trump administration’s Attorney General in 2017. Sessions resigned a year later after fall out with Trump over the AG’s decision to recuse himself from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Sessions defended his decision while on the campaign trail.
“You know, I don’t focus on regrets,” Sessions said. “I say my prayers and try to do the right thing. I think Donald Trump has been a president who has advanced the interests and values that I believe in. As attorney general, President Trump and I had one disagreement.”
The first statewide referendum held amid the coronavirus pandemic, turnout for Tuesday’s primary was extremely light in most places. Secretary of State John Merrill originally predicted turnout as high as 22% but modified that down on election day to 15-10%.
Tuberville will face Jones in the Nov. 3 general election.