Super Tuesday Senate Primary Update (March 3, 2020)
March 4, 2020 · 12:04 AM EST
The fight for the Senate got a little clearer Tuesday night with primaries in three states.
Once again, the Republican primary for an Alabama Senate seat is going to a runoff, and the president has a complicated relationship with one of the two finalists.
Jeff Sessions, who previously represented the state in the Senate from 1977 to 2017 before serving as US Attorney General under President Donald Trump, completed the first leg of his political comeback by advancing to a March 31 runoff with former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville. Sessions’ time in Trump’s cabinet was clouded by Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference, which the AG recused himself from to Trump’s eternal frustration. Unable to shake Trump’s ire, Sessions was fired (resigned “at your request”) the day after the 2018 midterms. Trump still hasn’t weighed in on this race, but Sessions has been pointing out his early support of Trump early in the 2016 race lately. Rep. Bradley Byrne finished third and former GOP Senate nominee Roy Moore finished a distant fourth with 8 percent.
Either Sessions or Tuberville will start the general election with the advantage over Democratic Sen. Doug Jones. Current rating: Lean Republican.
Former state Sen. Cal Cunningham was always the Democratic favorite to take on first-term Sen. Thom Tillis in this pivotal state, but a primary challenge from the left by state Sen. Erica Smith, and some meddling by a GOP-funded Super PAC made the race complicated and expensive. Cunningham secured the Democratic nomination with 57 percent to Smith’s 35 percent, with 87 percent of precincts reporting. Cunningham will now face Tillis in a contest that is key to Democrats’ hopes of taking back the Senate. Current rating: Toss-up.
A crowded Democratic field is getting slightly narrower tonight, but Democrats still have a ways to go before they select a candidate to take on Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn. MJ Hegar, who ran a surprisingly competitive race in 2018 against GOP Rep. John Carter in the 31st District, led the primary pack, but she failed to meet the 40 percent threshold needed to avoid a runoff, so she’ll face state Sen. Royce West, labor organizer Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez, or Houston City Councilwoman Amanda Edwards on May 26. Democrats are looking to capture the magic Beto O’Rourke had in his 2018 nailbiter against Sen. Ted Cruz, but so far this race has lagged behind those high expectations. Current rating: Likely Republican.