In a move that had been widely rumored (but nonetheless hard to believe), it was announced on Thursday that former Attorney General Jeff Sessions is looking for a comeback. No, Sessions isn’t so delusional to think he has a prayer of rejoining the Trump administration; instead, he wants to return to the comfortable home he had for 20 years in the Senate. He’s entering the Republican primaries to fill his old seat representing the good folks of Alabama.
While Sessions remains somewhat popular in his home state (and would certainly make a better senator than reigning Democrat Doug Jones), his fallout with President Trump could complicate his political ambitions. Trump has called appointing Sessions to the Justice Department “the biggest mistake of my presidency.” In recent weeks, hinting at Sessions’ rumored political comeback, Trump has even reportedly suggested going to Alabama to run against him in the primaries. That’s not going to happen, of course, but there’s certainly a possibility that Trump will campaign – hard – against his friend-turned-nemesis.
Trump’s relationship with Attorney General Sessions soured almost immediately when Sessions publicly recused himself from overseeing the FBI’s 2016 investigation. Trump regarded the move as nothing less than a betrayal, and he spent much of the rest of the year bashing Sessions – both in public and behind closed doors. When Sessions was finally pushed out in November 2018, it was perhaps the least surprising personnel change in this administration’s history.
Trump is unlikely to be happy with Sessions’ announcement, and his challengers for the Republican nomination don’t seem too thrilled, either.
“He’s been out of the swamp for less than two years, and now he’s itching to go back,” sneered former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville, who is also running for the seat. “He’s another career politician that the voters of Alabama will reject. As Attorney General, he failed the president at his point of greatest need.”
Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL), also running for the nomination, was equally as disdainful. “Alabama deserves a Senator who will stand with the President and won’t run away and hide from the fight.”
On Sessions’ side: He’s respected as a true-blue conservative who shares many of Trump’s values as it pertains to immigration, national security, and freedom of religion. He also has enormous name recognition, especially in Alabama.
But if voters feel that Sessions betrayed the president, it could be enough to sink his aspirations. He almost certainly won’t get any help from Trump, and he can’t even benefit from that friendly media coverage that gets bestowed on Republicans who split with the president. He’s caught in this unenviable abyss where he’s hated by the left and mistrusted by the right. Does that make for a successful Senate bid?
Well, in this era of politics, who can even guess?