It didn’t take long after Election Night for Donald Trump to do what he’d clearly been itching to do for more than a year — fire Jeff Sessions. And it didn’t take long after that for Jeff Sessions to start talking about a return to the status quo ante, either:
Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions is considering running for his old Alabama Senate seat in 2020, according to two people familiar with his thinking.
I wrote about this yesterday morning before the announcement of Sessions’ “resignation” later in the day. The move is so obvious that it hardly needs mentioning; the series of decisions that led from Sessions and Republicans having a secure lifetime seat in the Senate to having a Democrat occupy it are several and foolish. Sessions might be forgiven for reaching out for his dream job when it was offered, but he had a much different idea of the Attorney General position than Trump had. And then, the White House — specifically Steve Bannon — had a much different idea of an Alabama Senator than Alabamans had.
Sessions has already picked up an endorsement from the man who should have gotten the nomination against Doug Jones in the special election. In fact, Luther Strange sent this out as soon as Sessions’ resignation was announced:
Jeff Sessions for Senate in 2020! #alpolitics
— Luther Strange (@lutherstrange) November 7, 2018
Not so fast, warns Politico’s Alex Isenstadt:
Sessions, who spent two decades in the Senate, is practically a household name in his home state, and speculation has been simmering for weeks within Alabama political circles that he might seek a return. Yet, party officials stress that the 71-year-old Sessions wouldn’t necessarily face a clear path should he wage a comeback. Trump’s relentless attacks on the former attorney general, they say, have taken a toll on his popularity in the state.
And others are certain to be interested in running. GOP Rep. Bradley Byrne is widely talked about as a potential contender.
Want to bet which candidate the White House would back? Or have they learned their lesson about interfering in Alabama primaries?
For everyone outside of Alabama, the first practical priority is winning the seat back. If Byrne can do that, great, but Doug Jones will have some draw as an incumbent, and the presidential-cycle turnout might shift if Democrats manage to nominate someone charismatic and practical. Having Sessions’ name recognition on the ballot is no small bonus. Plus, Sessions did a very good job during his tenure in the Senate and Republicans can rely on his judgment in that seat. Having him back in the Senate might turn into a headache for President Trump at some point, but first Trump has to win re-election, and it might not be bad for Trump to reconcile with Sessions ahead of that campaign to heal a few wounds.