Coach Declares for Senate

By Jim Ellis

Former Auburn Football coach Tommy Tuberville (center)

April 9, 2019 — Rumors have been flying for some time that former NCAA Football coach Tommy Tuberville was looking forward to a run for public office, and now the speculation has come to fruition.

Tuberville officially announced his candidacy for the Alabama US Senate Republican nomination over the weekend. He coached the Auburn University Tigers from the 1999 through 2008 football seasons, won Coach of the Year honors in 2004 and 68 percent of his games while at the Alabama university.

The new Senate candidate released a statement through Twitter this past Saturday saying, “after more than a year of listening to Alabama’s citizens, I have heard your concerns and hopes for a better tomorrow. I am humbled to announce the next step — I will be a GOP candidate for US Senate. I invite you to join my team.”

As often stated in our Updates, the Alabama Senate race is the most important contest on the Republican target board. Increasing their 53-seat majority to 54 in defeating Democratic Sen. Doug Jones, in what should be one of the safest Republican states, is a must for the GOP and would provide them an important cushion for their majority margin.

There will be a serious Republican primary. Before Tuberville entered the race, Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile) announced his Senate candidacy, as did state auditor, Jim Zeigler.

The conservative Club for Growth organization has been actively trying to recruit a Republican candidate in opposition to Rep. Byrne, and it is yet unclear if Tuberville aligns with them ideologically. The group’s first choice is Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville), but the congressman says he will run for Senate only if President Trump asks him to do so. It does not appear likely that Trump will make such a request.

To refresh, the Alabama seat was lost in a 2017 special election after former incumbent Jeff Sessions (R) vacated the position to become US Attorney General, a post from which he has resigned. Former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore (R) won the Republican runoff leading to a general election debacle when the story broke that he had dated under-age girls.

For his part, Judge Moore has not ruled out running in 2020, and Sen. Jones has actually publicly encouraged him. The senator stated that running again would allow he and Moore, this time, to have a campaign based upon a fair issue discussion.

Sen. Jones is the first Democrat elected in Alabama since 1990. While Sen. Richard Shelby won re-election as the Democrat nominee in 1992, he then switched parties immediately after the 1994 election.

Republicans hold every Alabama statewide office and have won all gubernatorial campaigns except one since George Wallace departed at the beginning of 1987. Clearly, the modern-day voter history favors the GOP and the party should have an extra advantage with President Trump on the ballot in 2020 considering the Yellowhammer State will be one of his strongest.

In addition to coaching at Auburn, Tommy Tuberville was the head football coach at the University of Mississippi (1995-98), Texas Tech University (2010-12), and the University of Cincinnati (2013-16). In 2004, his Auburn Tigers went undefeated, but were not chosen to advance into the National Championship game, a slight that helped influence the NCAA leadership to create a modified playoff system.

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