(March 18) Former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions may have just received a lifeline in his bid to regain the Senate seat that he held for 20 years.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on Wednesday postponed the state’s scheduled March 31 primary runoff until July 14 because of the coronavirus. The early betting is that, however unintentionally, the postponement gives Sessions a greater chance to win his race against former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville.

Several early polls indicated that Tuberville had the advantage heading into the runoff after narrowly running first in the multiperson March 3 primary. At least one poll showed that advantage growing substantially after President Trump officially endorsed Tuberville. With only two weeks remaining before the original runoff date, Sessions might not have had time to recover. Now, he does, especially considering some of the late-breaking endorsements of his own.

In recent days, Sessions has been endorsed by the National Rifle Association, the politically potent Alabama Forestry Association, and multiple leaders of the state Christian Coalition. On Wednesday, so did the sheriffs and district attorneys of the populous coastal counties of Mobile and Baldwin, along with the city of Mobile’s public safety director. He also has been endorsed by the Eagle Forum PAC, the Family Research Council PAC, the Alabama Christian Education Association, Sen. Richard Shelby, and a host of other county sheriffs.

Most of these groups or leaders have existing political organizations or organizational capabilities that can make a big difference. This is especially true in low-turnout elections, as this runoff is expected to be, because “ground game” advantages are particularly useful when most of the general population isn’t paying much attention. Ground games are hard to gear up in just two weeks, though, so if the runoff had remained on March 31, the endorsements would not have been as useful. With more time to put organizational muscle into the effort, Sessions could benefit greatly….

[The full column is here.]


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