HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- A poll commissioned by the campaign of Jeff Sessions for the Republican U.S. Senate primary shows the former Senator with a solid lead, but not a margin that would avoid a runoff.
Sessions entered the U.S. Senate race in November, seeking to reclaim the seat he held for 20 years before he joined the Trump Administration as attorney general.
The GOP's target is current U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, a Democrat. Jones defeated Roy Moore in a special election in 2017. Moore, also a candidate in the 2020 primary, defeated a 2017 field that included then-appointed U.S. Sen. Luther Strange and Huntsville-area U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks.
The poll commissioned by Sessions’ campaign had good news for the senator, who will turn 73 on Christmas Eve. But it also showed 12 percent of voters undecided.
Among 700 likely Republican voters, surveyed Dec. 3-5, the poll found Sessions was favored by 44 percent of voters. Former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville was second with 21 percent. Mobile-area U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne was third at 14 percent and Roy Moore was fourth at 7 percent.
The poll also found Sessions had a 71 percent favorable rating. Tuberville’s favorable rating was 50 percent and Byrne had a 37 percent favorable rating.
Sessions and Tuberville’s campaigns didn’t respond to a request for comment on the poll.
Byrne began running TV ads last Wednesday, as the poll was being conducted. His campaign manager, Seth Morrow, said it’s not surprising a candidate’s own poll would show him leading.
"There’s a long way to go between here and election day, there’s a lot of money to be spent, there’s a lot of voters to be interacted with by all the candidates," he said.
Morrow said voters are still making up their minds.
"Candidates are going to have to get out there, they’re going to have to work they’re going to have to tell their story, tell their message and at the end of the day, I think Bradley's message as a fighter, somebody who’s gone to bat for Alabama time and time again, and will win the day," he said.
A primary candidate has to get 50.1 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff.
The poll found Shelby County-area State Rep. Arnold Mooney -- who was the first candidate in the race to air campaign ads this year -- was polling at around 1 percent.