- The Washington Times - Monday, February 17, 2020

With time running out to catch front-runner former Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the Republican race for Senate seat in Alabama, a trailing GOP candidate jabbed him for getting fired by President Trump.

In television ads run by Rep. Bradley Byrne, whom most polls show in third place heading toward the primary March 3, an actor playing Mr. Sessions is summarily sacked by a three-person panel that chides his performance as attorney general.

“He let the president down and got fired,” a woman says, as a rumpled man in a fake MAGA hat stands before the tribunal.

“And Hillary still ain’t in jail,” a man sighs before Mr. Sessions’ imaginary file is stamped, “fired.”

Driving a wedge between Mr. Sessions and Mr. Trump has become a recurring theme.

Former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville, another Republican vying to take on Democratic Sen. Doug Jones, also hit Mr. Sessions for his falling out with the president.

Mr. Tuberville told an Alabama radio audience that Mr. Sessions let Mr. Trump down by recusing himself from the Russia collusion probe that bedeviled the president, a point that echoes criticism leveled by Mr. Trump.

“If Jeff Sessions had done the right thing, this might not be a problem as it is today,” Mr. Tuberville said. “Man, we have opened up a can of worms. I feel bad for the president.”

Rather than ignore attacks, as front-runners often do, Mr. Sessions bristled at the insults and called the tactics “sleazy.”

“Both Tuberville and Byrne have quit on themselves and their campaigns. Neither can connect with voters on the merits of their ideas. It is sad to see them both descend to such a sleazy low point,” Mr. Sessions said in a statement.

Mr. Sessions held the Senate seat for 20 years before giving it up to become attorney general. Mr. Jones won the seat in the 2017 special election.

Mr. Byrne and Mr. Tuberville are mired in a close race to see who will place second in the Republican primary and thus, in all probability given the large and splintered field, oppose Mr. Sessions in the runoff that would fall March 31.

Whoever wins will be favored in ruby red Alabama over Mr. Jones, who is the most vulnerable Senate Democratic incumbent. In a Mason-Dixon poll released last week, all three Republican candidates beat Mr. Jones in hypothetical matchups.

Mr. Byrne and Mr. Tuberville began trading bards over the weekend on immigration. Mr. Sessions has long been considered a hard-liner on that topic, and he has stressed that point during this campaign.

Mr. Tuberville insisting he is as staunchly opposed to illegal immigration and fully supports Mr. Trump’s border wall, tying himself to the popular Mr. Trump.

Mr. Byrne said it was absurd to accuse him of slinging arrows in the closing weeks when he has already been under assault from an advertising campaign by what he dubbed “the D.C., anti-Trump Club for Growth.”

“That group has been a proxy doing the dirty work for Tuberville,” said Byrne campaign spokesman Seth Morrow. “Voters need to know that Tuberville supports amnesty and that Jeff Sessions was fired by President Trump. “

Immigration has long been a hot topic in Alabama, whose legislature in 2011 approved what soft-borders groups consider the nation’s harshest anti-immigration law. Roughly 12% of the state’s workforce in the agricultural and construction sectors are immigrants, the American Immigration Council reported in 2017.

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