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Former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville flips Alabama Senate seat back to Republicans

Tuberville defeated Sen. Doug Jones, who was widely viewed as one of the most vulnerable Democrats this cycle.

Tommy Tuberville has defeated Sen. Doug Jones, flipping an Alabama Senate seat back to Republicans.
Butch Dill/AP
Li Zhou is a politics reporter at Vox, where she covers Congress and elections. Previously, she was a tech policy reporter at Politico and an editorial fellow at the Atlantic.

Former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville has defeated Democratic Sen. Doug Jones, flipping an Alabama Senate seat that Republicans have been hoping to retake for some time.

Tuberville was widely viewed as the favorite in the race and had been ahead of Jones in recent polls. He kept a relatively low profile throughout the campaign, and focused primarily on his ties to Trump, as well as his credentials as the head coach of one of Alabama’s most popular college sports teams.

Much of his rhetoric ended up sounding very similar to the president’s: “Between Doug Jones and me, voters have the choice between a devoted liberal who embraces the D.C. swamp or a committed conservative outsider who wants to fundamentally change the way Washington operates,” Tuberville previously told the Associated Press.

Tuberville’s seat is one of a few Democratic-held ones that were in contention for Republicans this cycle. His win is a testament to how conservative the state still is: Jones’s success in 2017 was due in large part to the problems with his opponent, Roy Moore, who faced multiple allegations of sexual misconduct toward young girls. At the time, many Republicans in the state declined to support Moore, a key factor in Jones’s victory.

Tuberville, meanwhile, had broad Republican backing after winning a runoff against former US Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier this year. The seat he now takes is the one Sessions used to hold before he left to work in the Trump administration.

Tuberville has backed Trump’s plans for a border wall, tax cuts, and repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and is poised to be a staunch conservative once he’s sworn into office. Beyond his close alignment with Trump, however, Tuberville has been vague about what his legislative priorities will be when he gets to the Senate.

“All of the voices of the state of Alabama will be heard on the floor of the United States Senate,” Tuberville said in his runoff victory speech in July.