It’s the night of Super Tuesday. As people file into Auburn Oaks Farm, their voices echo through the large, open clubhouse. Discussion of the results that are trickling in can be heard all around, but the race that is mentioned most is the Alabama Senate race. They are all there to show their support for Tommy Tuberville.
Former U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions and Tuberville, who was the head football coach for the Tigers from 1999 to 2008, are heading to a runoff for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. Voters will pick between the two on March 31.
Under Tuberville’s leadership, the team played in eight bowl games, won five SEC Western Division titles and won one SEC championship.
But in 2019, Tuberville decided to compete in a different capacity — in a race for a seat in the U.S. Senate.
When developing a platform, Tuberville focused on areas such as immigration, gun rights and protecting life. He has also closely associated himself with President Donald Trump and his policies, claiming on his website that he “will stand with President Trump and fight any attempt to discredit his Presidency.”
Belinda Middlebrooks is 62 years old and has lived in Alabama her entire life. She sat with her husband, his hand around her shoulders as they talked quietly with each other.
“I was born here, and I guess I’ll die here,” she said. “[Tuberville] stands behind the issues that I care about — immigration, the border, term limits, his faith and we need somebody different.”
Sign up for our newsletter
Get The Plainsman straight to your inbox.
Two women, a few tables away, stood glancing around the room. Both Auburn students, they came to the event as Tuberville supporters after hearing about it earlier in the day.
The connection that Tuberville has established with Trump’s policies made him a desirable candidate, said Anna Wooten, nursing student at Auburn.
“My family is a big Trump supporter,” she said. “I like that Tuberville is a big Trump supporter and that he will do stuff hand-in-hand with him.”
Wooten also emphasized the fact that Tuberville not being a career politician held a lot of weight in her voting decision.
“I think that says a lot about him because it would make him a lot more likely to do stuff for the people rather than what’s going to get him elected,” Wooten said.
The theme of “draining the swamp” floated around the room all night and was chanted around a table at one point.
Greg Lane, 46, was standing farther from the noise with his brother. He said that along with Tuberville’s stance on term limits, this was something he focused on as well.
“He’s not a politician,” Lane said. “He’s already said he has plenty of money and that every bit of money he makes will go to the veterans or some sort of charity. I believe he’ll stand by that.”
As the night went on, more people crowded into the venue. The adults sipped drinks and watched more results come in, while girls with large, orange bows ran to grab pieces of red, white and blue cake.
Multiple male college students stood around a table with star-shaped confetti and an American flag. They were Auburn students interning for Tuberville’s campaign. Gregory Marshall, sophomore in political science, also emphasized the sentiment that Tuberville wasn’t a career politician.
“He came out of the woodworks — well, he’s a well-known individual — but he came out with a different point of view, and he’s going to show people something new,” Marshall said.
Watching the results come in between Tuberville and Sessions, which remained close throughout the night, Slade McLendon, freshman in wildlife ecology, said that name recognition is what carried Sessions.
“I think it’s tight because Jeff Sessions is a known person in politics,” McLendon said. “It’s also tight because people realize that Tuberville has made it clear that he wants to work with Trump, and Sessions kind of quit on him once. Who’s to say he won’t do it again?”
About an hour before any decision was made in the race, Joe Potter, 69, stood in front of a TV and watched as Fox News continued calling races. He wore a bright red Trump shirt as he chatted with the people standing around him.
At this point, there was about a 3% difference in polling between Tuberville and Sessions. Potter said that he didn’t want to see another “swamper” in Washington again, which is why he wouldn’t vote for Sessions.
“I’m very disappointed that Sessions decided he wanted to go back to the swamp,” he said. “I have a TV, and I watch TV enough to know that Sessions laid down and became a rug. Even though Trump was making American great again, he allowed the Democrats to put Trump through hell.”
Around 9:50 p.m., supporters began to gather closer to the stage awaiting Tuberville’s speech. Two women, however, stayed in their seats that they had been in all night. They had come from Trussville, Alabama, as members of the Republican Women of Trussville.
Judy Hamrick, 66, was one of the representatives from this organization. She said that Tuberville had come to speak at one of their meetings and gathered a lot of support after he spoke because of the difference between himself and Sessions.
“Jeff is a career politician, and he will not talk about why he recused himself,” Hamrick said. “If he talked about it, he might have people who supported him, but he won’t, so why would I send him back?”
Rebecca Haston, 76, wore a blue and orange tie-dyed Auburn shirt to the event. She mentioned that Tuberville was an Auburn man and that her son had also attended Auburn.
Knowing where Tuberville came from made her vote for him as well.
“The reason we like Tommy is that he’s not a politician,” Haston said. “That’s what we want. We need someone to go in there and help Trump drain the swamp.”
As the majority of the precinct began to come in, Tuberville’s campaign staff notified the crowd that a runoff election would occur between Tuberville and Sessions. According to NBC News, after 99% reporting, Tuberville ended with 33.4% of the vote compared to Sessions’ 31.6%.
Now that the race is “going into overtime,” Tuberville said he is ready to take on this runoff.
“It looks like a great night for us,” Tuberville said. “And a bad night for the swamp.”
Do you like this story? The Plainsman doesn't accept money from tuition or student fees, and we don't charge a subscription fee. But you can donate to support The Plainsman.Support The Plainsman