The long, hot summer has brought some crystallization to the 2020 U.S. Senate race.
This seat was held by Jeff Sessions for almost two decades but he unwittingly made a strange and probably very regrettable decision to join President Donald Trump’s administration as attorney general. Very few U.S. Senators with 20 years of seniority would leave their permanent seats in the illustrious, powerful and elite senate for a temporary four-year (at best) tenure in a tumultuous and transient cabinet post.
Trump is tempestuous at the least and still likes to think of himself as the host of his TV reality show, “The Apprentice,” who famously says, “You’re fired!”
Trump has recently tweeted the Sessions appointment as attorney general was the most regrettable appointment he has made. You can more than likely ascertain Sessions feels the same way about his decision. However, you could safely bet the reserved, squeaky clean, Dudley-Do-Right, Eagle Scout Sessions will not do any tweeting, or betting, on anything, much less his Trump controversy.
Therefore, the biggest question regarding the 2020 U.S. Senate race in the Heart of Dixie is would Sessions run to get his seat back? The answer is he considered it. He was encouraged to run by the Washington Republican establishment, including Mitch McConnell. However, he has decided at 72 he will not seek his seat.
My thoughts are he could have and probably would have won. However, his departure from the race makes for some good theater.
It is assumed the winner of next year’s March 3rd GOP primary will win the six-year senate term. Alabama is one of the most Republican states in America. With it being a presidential election year, Alabama will probably vote 65% for Donald Trump. The GOP senate candidate can expect to mirror that landslide or at least win by a 60/40 margin with maybe one exception.
That exception would be if Judge Roy Moore for some reason wins the Republican nomination, which would give the Democrat, probably Doug Jones, a possible opening.
Moore begins the race with overwhelmingly negative name identification and 2-to-1 negative polling numbers which will not improve. Believe me, the National Republican, McConnell, establishment money is going to pour in here to run negative ads against Moore to make sure he is not the GOP standard bearer in the fall of 2020. When they get through with him, his horse Sassy will even have negative numbers.
My guess is Moore’s best days are behind him and he will not be the GOP nominee. However, he still has a hard core of support that will stay with him come hell or high water. He will probably get 18% of the primary vote and finish a strong third.
My early prediction is First District Congressman Bradley Byrne and Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill will ultimately be in a runoff and either would easily beat the Democrat in November 2020.
Byrne dedicated himself to this race more than a year ago and has been campaigning at full throttle for 15 months. There is a tried and true adage in politics that the early bird gets the worm. Indeed, Byrne has used his early dedication to the race to raise significant early money and some good commitments.
However, Byrne’s initial polling numbers are not great. The surprising aspect to the internal polling reveals his 2010 governor’s race does not give him name identification. The good side for him is his negatives are also low. Folks have obviously forgotten he ran for governor in 2010.
Most astute state inside observers believe Merrill is the man to beat in this race. He is simply the hardest-working retail politician in the state.
He has a grassroots organization in all 67 counties. He has gotten his traction the old-fashioned way with hard work and a love for one-on-one politicking. He will outwork and out-organize all the candidates in the race combined. Although he has built his organization the old-fashioned, hard-working way, he understands the new medium of networking and campaigning through social media. It will be fun to watch.