Everything to know about the Alabama Senate special election

Next week, Alabama voters will head to the polls for a primary election for the Senate seat previously occupied by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Seven candidates are running for the Democratic nomination, though it’s the Republican primary that has gained national prominence.

Here’s a look at what you need to know about the Alabama primary:

Why the seat is open

The Senate seat was previously held by Alabama native Jeff Sessions, who served as senator for 20 years before his nomination by President Trump to serve as attorney general.

Following Sessions’ confirmation in February, then-Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley appointed the state’s attorney general, Luther Strange, to temporarily fill Sessions’ Senate seat until the general election. Bentley later resigned after allegations that he used state resources as governor to hide an affair with one of his top aides. Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey replaced Bentley as governor following the resignation, and called for a special election in April.

Sessions was first elected in 1997, and since then, the state has been represented by two Republican senators. In his last election in 2014, Sessions was unchallenged and won the general election with over 97 percent of the vote. The senior senator from Alabama, Richard Shelby, was elected for the first time in 1987 and is not up for reelection until 2022.

In the 2016 presidential election, Trump won Alabama with 62 percent of the vote.

Who is running

Among the nine Republicans running for the vacant seat, three are flagged as main contenders: incumbent Sen. Luther Strange, former judge Roy Moore and Mo Brooks, representative for Alabama’s 5th congressional district.

Luther Strange

Al Drago/The New York Times via Redux
Sen. Luther Strange after the final vote before August recess on Capitol Hill in Washington, Aug. 3, 2017.

Strange officially stated his candidacy for Sessions’ seat on Dec. 6, just 18 days after Trump announced he would be picking Sessions for attorney general. Strange was appointed in February to temporarily fill the seat left by Sessions. Previously, Strange served as the attorney general for Alabama. After winning the Republican primary, he lost the race for lieutenant governor in 2006.

On Tuesday, Strange was endorsed by Trump, who tweeted that Strange “has done a great job representing the people of the Great State of Alabama,” adding, “He has my complete and total endorsement!”

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