From the SEC to DC: Tommy Tuberville’s race for Senate comes to a close

Tuberville is expected to beat out Democrat incumbent Doug Jones come Tuesday, but the Jones campaign isn’t so sure.

Photo+courtesy+of+The+Auburn+Plainsman

Photo courtesy of The Auburn Plainsman

Famed football coach Tommy Tuberville, best known for his winning record against Alabama (7-3) and his infamous 13-0 season in 2004-’05, is four days away from finding out if he will become the next Alabama senator.

After losing his job at Auburn, Tuberville accepted multiple jobs at college football programs over the next eight years. He has never been elected or taken a job in a political or governmental capacity. Tuberville, who has been backed by President Donald Trump, fits the new desired non-politician that many conservatives support. 

The only opponent in the way of Tuberville is the incumbent Senator Doug Jones, who won the 2017 special election after former senator and attorney general Jeff Sessions took an appointment from President Donald Trump to become attorney general. Though Jones is the incumbent, Tuberville has a large lead in multiple polls collected by FiveThirtyEight

This race was heated from the start. Jones has attacked Tuberville multiple times about his lack of experience, especially on Twitter. 

“Once again @TTuberville doesn’t respond to the media, or the people of Alabama,” Jones tweeted. “It’s not that he refuseshe just doesn’t have a clue how to answer. No experience. No substance. No plan.”

Jack West, the editor-in-chief of The Plainsmen in Auburn, Alabama, has had staff members covering the race since Tuberville entered the race. In West’s opinion, there won’t be much of a race Tuesday.

A lot of it is going to come down to voter turnout and a lot of folks have been turning out to vote early.”

— Claire Brickson, Doug Jones For Senate deputy press secretary

“I don’t know if Doug Jones has a chance to win,” West said. “Just looking at public polling, and this does not represent the opinion of me or my newspaper, most public polls have [Jones] down by double digits.” 

To Jones and his campaign team, the outlook is much brighter. Claire Brickson, Jones’ deputy press secretary, said there’s an anomaly this year that could play a factor in the race that most can’t prepare for. 

“I think we’re pretty confident, I know you’ve seen some different polling out there, but what we’ve seen is looking pretty good,” Brickson said. “A lot of it is going to come down to voter turnout and a lot of folks have been turning out to vote early.” 

As of Wednesday, there were over 270,000 Alabamians who had voted early. The previous record turnout was roughly 90,000. 

West said that Tuberville seemed confident of winning Auburn after he declined to show up for a Q&A with Auburn College Republicans due to prior engagement. Jones however, accepted the call from Auburn’s College Democrats and answered student questions for over an hour. 

At the Q&A, Jones said that his No. 1 priority was to help Alabama recover from COVID-19 economically, according to the Montgomery Advertiser. Brickson added that Jones would also ensure that Alabamians were still able to receive health care from the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Photo courtesy of The Auburn Plainsman.

“I think healthcare would be one [major] priority,” Brickson said. “Making sure that folks have access to that during a pandemic. That’s [protection under the Affordable Care Act] something that Tuberville… said that he will fight to take away.” 

To West, what makes this election different than most is Tuberville’s notoriety before being elected in office. 

“It’s interesting, he almost had more recognition than a sitting senator,” West said. “Jones got elected in 2017 in a pretty highly publicized race, but Tuberville was pretty well known, especially in Auburn circles.” 

As Tuberville has run for office, many Alabamians have heard about his business dealings outside of college football for the first time. TS Capital Management and TS Capital Partners, both co-founded by Tuberville and former Lehman Brothers broker John David Stroud, were investigated for fraud. 

In February 2012, seven investors sued Tuberville and Stroud, saying they were defrauded of more than $1.7 million over a period of three years, beginning in 2008. Tuberville managed to settle the case for an undisclosed amount of money, but Stroud ended up with a 10-year prison sentence after he pleaded guilty to the charge of fraudulent use of $5.2 million from various Auburn investment companies.

Trump is going to carry the state by double digits, so assuming the majority of people that vote for him vote straight party, I think that’s the biggest factor.”

— Jack West, Editor-in-Chief of The Auburn Plainsman

After the bad local press that Tuberville received from this controversy, he founded the Tommy Tuberville Foundation, which aimed to help American veterans. However, in 2020, multiple reports surfaced that only a third of funds that had been donated to the foundation had been used to aid veterans. 

The controversies have been largely overlooked by the majority of the Republican party, as Tuberville managed to handily beat Sessions in a runoff, securing over 60% of the vote. West thinks this will also correlate to the general election between Tuberville and Jones. 

“Two thirds of the state on average votes straight ticket,” West said. “So, Trump is going to carry the state by double digits, so assuming the majority of people that vote for him vote straight party, I think that’s the biggest factor.”  

West also pointed to the fact that Jones narrowly beat former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, Roy Moore, who had been far more scandal-ridden than Tuberville. He also pointed to the fact that this was a presidential election year and not a midterm like 2018 or 2014, so there would be a higher turnout. In a Republican dominated state, that is bad for Jones. 

Polls will close for the 2020 election at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3. For more information on voting, visit centerforvoterinformation.org.