The notoriously anti-LGBTQ politician Jeff Sessions (R) lost his primary for U.S. Senator from Alabama yesterday, likely ending the 73-year-old’s career in politics. Former college football coach Tommy Tuberville won the election and will be the Republican nominee in the general election this November.
Sessions was a U.S. Senator for 20 years until Donald Trump made him attorney general in 2017. A year and a half after he started as attorney general, though, Trump asked Sessions for his resignation and then blasted Sessions on social media.
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Sessions recused himself from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, earning Trump’s ire.
He tried to get back into politics by running for the Senate again, but he was at a disadvantage this time – not only was he not an incumbent, but he was now branded as insufficiently respectful of Trump, hurting his chances with voters loyal to Trump.
Sessions even ran a groveling ad where he said he never said “a cross word about our president” and that he was attorney general “to serve [Trump’s] agenda, not mine.”
But Sessions ultimately lost the Republican primary runoff yesterday to Tuberville, who got Trump’s endorsement.
“3 years ago, after Jeff Sessions recused himself, the Fraudulent Mueller Scam began,” Trump tweeted in March. “Alabama, do not trust Jeff Sessions. He let our Country down. That’s why I endorsed Coach Tommy Tuberville, the true supporter of our #MAGA agenda!”
And yesterday, Trump celebrated Tuberville’s victory by tweeting that he “will be a GREAT Senator for the incredible people of Alabama.”
Wow, just called! @TTuberville – Tommy Tuberville WON big against Jeff Sessions. Will be a GREAT Senator for the incredible people of Alabama. @DougJones is a terrible Senator who is just a Super Liberal puppet for Schumer & Pelosi. Represents Alabama poorly. On to November 3rd.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 15, 2020
Sessions opposed LGBTQ equality for his entire political career. As a state attorney general in the 1990s, he fought against an LGBTQ college conference taking place in the state, saying that discussing homosexuality will cause “irreparable harm.”
Then, for two decades in the Senate, he opposed all bills that advanced LGBTQ equality, earning himself consistent “0” ratings on HRC’s Congressional Scorecard. He even voted against hate crimes legislation, saying that LGBTQ people don’t “face that kind of discrimination.”
As U.S. Attorney General, he helped dismantle protections for transgender students and made “religious freedom” the central project of the Department of Justice. He spoke at a hate group summit and set up a “religious liberty task force” in part to fight for his expansive view of religious exemptions to anti-discrimination laws.
Tuberville’s website doesn’t mention LGBTQ people specifically, but he does say he’s a “Christian conservative” and that he believes “liberals in Washington are out-of-control.” He says that abortion is “infanticide” and “this generation’s holocaust,” indicating that he approaches family and sexuality issues from the far-right.
He also says that he wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which provides funding for health care and banned certain forms of discrimination in health care. Obama era guidelines that ban discrimination against transgender people in health care are based on a section of the ACA.
Late last year, Tuberville complained that drag queens performed in his town’s Christmas parade. While he didn’t say exactly what his issue was with the drag queens, comments on his Facebook post called them “sick” and “disgusting.”
Tuberville will now face off against Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) in November’s general election. Polling currently shows that Tuberville is ahead in the race.