MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is exploring the possibility of a run for his former Senate seat in Alabama, according to people with knowledge of the calls.
Three Republicans with knowledge of the situation say Sessions has made telephone calls exploring the possibility of running for his old Senate seat. 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.
Sessions has until next Friday to decide whether to be a last-minute entry into the 2020 Senate race. The Alabama Republican Party closes qualifying for 2020 candidates at 5 p.m. Nov. 8.
Sen. Doug Jones, a Democrat, won the 2017 special election to fill Sessions’ seat by defeating Republican Roy Moore.
Republicans see recapturing the Senate seat in the once reliably red state as a top priority in 2020.
A crowded GOP primary field is already competing for the Republican nomination and the right to challenge Jones. Sessions’ entry into the race would upend the 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 one the first national Republicans to line up behind Donald Trump’s fledgling 2016 campaign. He left his Senate seat to become President Trump’s first attorney general. He was ousted after enduring public mocking from Trump for recusing himself from special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
One unknown factor is how Trump’s repeated criticism would affect a Sessions campaign.
Sessions reiterated his support for Trump in a speech earlier this month at a state party fundraiser.
“He is relentlessly and actually honoring the promises he made to the American people,” Sessions said in the speech at Huntsville.
Sessions did not mention the Senate race but criticized Democrats as the party that sees “more government” as the answer.
He said he believes Republicans could achieve historic congressional majorities in 2020, but cautioned that they must show they are responding to the concerns of average Americans.