President Trump's fulminations against Jefferson Beauregard Sessions aside, the former U.S. attorney general is in a commanding position to win back his old Senate seat in 2020.
That was the conclusion of veteran Alabama Republican pollster David Ferguson. He spoke to Newsmax Thursday evening, just as Sessions, 72, was making his candidacy official for the seat he held from 1996 until he resigned to become Trump's attorney general in 2017.
"Jeff Sessions has true relationships with a lot of voters and is in place to win the roughly 125,000 votes needed to win one of the top two positions in the primary March 3," Ferguson told us. "He is easily the best retail politician in Alabama since [four-term Democratic Gov. and 1968 independent presidential candidate] George Wallace."
According to Ferguson's just-completed poll of likely Republican primary voters, Sessions has a favorable rating of 55% and an unfavorable rating of 27%. In contrast, Roy Moore, who lost a special election for Sessions' old seat to Democrat Doug Jones, has a favorable-unfavorable rating of 43% to 52%.
Another contender, Rep. Bradley Byrne, is 16% to 7% favorable-unfavorable. Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville, also a candidate, is 42% to 50% favorable-unfavorable.
Not polled by Ferguson but also in the GOP primary are Secretary of State John Merrill and State Rep. Arnold Mooney.
Because Sessions permitted the appointment of special prosecutor Robert Mueller, Trump never forgave him and frequently voiced the view he wished he had named another attorney general. In November 2018, after Trump had leaned on him to quit, the Alabamian finally resigned.
As Sessions began discussing seeking the Republican nomination for his old Senate seat, the president sent strong signals to friends that he would oppose his candidacy.
One Trump supporter from Alabama who requested anonymity told Newsmax that the president said to him, "If the Republicans in Alabama nominated Sessions, he would campaign for the Democrat." That would be Jones, who won the special election in 2017 resulting from Sessions' resignation to join the Trump cabinet.
Ferguson believes that while Trump is extremely popular in Alabama, "so is Jeff Sessions. People here like Trump and they like Sessions, and they can draw the distinction as well."
Sessions is the first former U.S. senator and attorney general attempting to regain his old seat since J. Howard McGrath, who was fired as attorney general by Harry Truman in 1952 and sought the Democratic nomination for his old seat in 1960. He lost.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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