The answer I got from numerous interviews over the past two weeks as Trump has renewed his shaming campaign is that it’s as much about fear of a Trump backlash as it is love. Conservative Alabama’s politicians love Sessions, who helped lead the state’s rightward shift, but they’re wary of the prickly, shoot-first president more. Who wants to be on the wrong side of Trump’s twitter salvos? And who wants to risk alienating a voting bloc that has remained as loyal to him as any in the nation?
Being on Trump’s wrong side is politically dangerous, and the evidence in Alabama is a fresh memory. Alabama 2nd District congresswoman Martha Roby paid a price for withdrawing her endorsement during the 2016 election over Trump’s “Access Hollywood” tape. Running this year for a fifth term, she was forced into a Republican primary runoff, which she won after receiving Trump’s blessing. During the Republican primaries for lieutenant governor and state attorney general, candidates debated who was a bigger Trump booster.
It’s a different story, however, among rank-and-file voters. Some are indeed upset with Sessions over his recusal and their belief that his Justice Department has not aggressively pursued investigations of Trump’s election rival Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration. But observers on both sides of Alabama’s political spectrum predict Sessions will weather this storm among his home-state voters.