The Great Smoky Mountain Journal
Posted: Monday, January 01, 2018 12:28 PM
Trump-Sessions Feud Throws Alabama Republican Primary Into Upheaval
The Republican candidates vying for Jeff
Sessions’ old Senate seat in Alabama have portrayed themselves as
staunch allies of both the attorney general and President Trump.
But just three weeks before the primary, the president’s repeated attacks on Sessions are complicating the race – in a conservative state where both Trump and Sessions remain enormously popular, and candidates can’t afford to alienate either man’s supporters.
“The wise move in Alabama is to stand with the one from your state, the senator that was so very, very popular, who walked away from a job that would have been his for life if he wanted it,” advised Sean Sullivan, a conservative radio host in Mobile.
Sessions was the first senator to endorse Trump and became one of his most loyal and high-profile surrogates during the presidential campaign. But their relationship has frayed, with Trump expressing his irritation in recent days over Sessions’ recusal from the Russia meddling investigation.
This has put those vying to replace him in a tough spot.
Alabama Sen. Luther Strange, who was temporarily appointed to the seat in April after Sessions joined the Trump administration, is not taking sides but is praising both Sessions and Trump. In a statement Tuesday, Strange took aim at the press.
“Jeff and President Trump are trying to make America great again, and it’s a privilege to work alongside both to accomplish the Trump agenda for the American people, and we need to stop letting the media distract us from that agenda,” he said.
U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, who has been endorsed by conservative media hosts Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin and Sean Hannity, made an unorthodox offer in a Wednesday press release in demonstrating his support for Sessions: that all the Republican candidates agree to withdraw from the race together to “clear the way” for the state party to nominate Sessions to run again for his old seat.
“I recognize that President Trump is popular in Alabama,” Brooks said. “My closest friends and political advisers have told me to not side with Jeff Sessions, that it will cost me politically to do so. My response is simple: I don't care. If this costs me politically, that's fine but I am going to the right thing for Alabama and America.”
Roy Moore, who was elected and forced out
as Alabama’s Supreme Court chief justice twice but enjoys support from
religious conservatives, told Fox News at a barbeque restaurant in
Gardendale on Monday: “I don’t think Jeff Sessions should resign at this
time. But you know that’s my opinion."