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Sessions likely headed to runoff in Alabama GOP Senate race, Roy Moore won't make it

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Image: Jeff Sessions speaks to reporters after voting in Alabama's primary
Jeff Sessions speaks to reporters after voting in Alabama's primary election in Mobile on March 3, 2020.   -   Copyright  Vasha Hunt AP
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Former Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions and onetime Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville were neck-and-neck in the Republican primary race for Senate on Tuesday night and likely headed for a runoff.

Sessions had 32.6 percent of the vote, while Tuberville had 32.2 percent of the vote, with 53 percent in.

They are trailed by three-term GOP Rep. Bradley Byrne, who has 25.4 percent of the vote, while 6.8 percent of voters had cast ballots for Roy Moore, the 2018 Republican candidate who lost amid allegations that he'd had improper sexual contact with young girls. Moore won't make the runoff, NBC projects.

The race will likely proceed to a March run-off race if none of the candidates win majority support in the crowded primary, before the winner goes up against Democrat Sen. Doug Jones, who won the seat in a 2017 special election and is considered one of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats.

Once the state's popular senior senator, Sessions left the job to become President Donald Trump's attorney general. But the president soured on his attorney general when Sessions recused himself from the Russia probe and the president ousted Sessions from the job the day after the midterm elections in November.

Trump has trashed Sessions — calling"biggest mistake"of his presidency and criticizing his leadership as attorney general. Trump allies even warned Sessions that the president would campaign against him if he ran, though the president has so far stayed silent.

The candidates didn't stay silent on Trump, though: the president has a 62 percent approval rating here and the Senate primary revolved around who was more committed to the president.

Sessions ran as his "No. 1 supporter," and boasted that he was an early endorser.

Tuberville, a football coach who rose to prominence leading his team to a slew of titles over a decade, adopted a Trump-like political persona in his bid. He did a bus tour and called it "The People vs. The Swamp Tour," and he derides the "fake news."