Tuberville heads to runoff in Alabama Senate race

Former college football coach Tommy Tuberville will face former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a March 31 runoff for the Alabama Senate Republication nomination.

Sessions and Tuberville won the most votes in the primary Tuesday to advance from a crowded primary field. Awaiting the runoff winner in November is Democratic incumbent Doug Jones.

The 73-year-old Sessions served in the Alabama Senate for two decades before becoming President Donald Trump’s first attorney general. Tuberville, 65, used to coach at Auburn University.

Also in the race were U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, Rep. Arnold Mooney, businessman Stanley Adair and community activist Ruth Page Nelson.

The winner will likely be a strong challenger to Jones, who defeated a scandal-plagued Roy Moore, a former Alabama chief justice, in December 2017 to become Alabama’s first Democratic senator in a quarter-century. Jones is the only Democrat in a statewide office in the GOP-controlled state.

The race has become a nasty slugfest to make the two-person runoff with the candidates trading barbs in speeches and over the airwaves.

Tuberville has tried to portray himself as the political outsider in the race.

In 21 seasons as a head coach, Tuberville won 159 games with Ole Miss, Auburn, Texas Tech and Cincinnati. He stepped down at Cincinnati after the Bearcats went 4-8 in 2016.

Tuberville announced his candidacy in April 2019. He previously worked as a college football game analyst for ESPN.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.