MONTGOMERY, AL – Former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is exploring the possibility of a run for his old Senate seat in Alabama, according to three Republicans with knowledge of the situation.
They say Sessions has made telephone calls discussing a potential bid to return to the Senate. The Republicans spoke on condition of anonymity so they could speak more freely about closely held conversations.
It was not immediately clear how close Sessions was to making a decision or the seriousness of the exploration. He has until 5 p.m. Nov. 8 to decide whether to be a last-minute entry into the 2020 race. The Alabama Republican Party sets the deadline.
Sen. Doug Jones, a Democrat, won the 2017 special election to fill Sessions' seat by defeating Republican Roy Moore. Republicans see recapturing the seat in the once reliably red state as a top priority in 2020.
Sessions' entry into the race would upend an already competitive primary that includes U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, Moore and others.
Sessions was a beloved figure among state Republicans after serving in the Senate for 20 years. But a new campaign would face the impact of a soured relationship with President Donald Trump.
Sessions left the Senate to become Trump's first attorney general. He was ousted after enduring repeated public mocking from Trump for recusing himself from special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.
An unknown factor is how Trump's bashing would affect a Sessions campaign, particularly if the president's criticism continued through a Senate race.