Keeping an eye on the Alabama GOP Senate primary [with updates]

In addition, to following the Democrats’ Super-Tuesday, we will also be covering the race in Alabama for the right to knock off Democratic incumbent Doug Jones. This is a three-way contest featuring former Senator (and Attorney General) Jeff Sessions, Rep. Bradley Byrne, and former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville. There are other candidates including Judge Roy Moore, but the three mentioned above are the true contenders.

If no one gets to 50 percent, there will be a runoff. It’s expected that no one will reach 50 percent, though Sessions might. Thus, one of the three main contenders will fall by the wayside tonight and the other two will likely face off again later.

UPDATE: With about 10 percent of the vote in, this is shaping up as a race between Sessions and Tuberville. Byrne is well back.

As expected, no one looks like getting close to 50 percent of the vote. As not expected, Tuberville has a small lead over Sessions.

What I don’t know is where the counted votes are mostly from. Are them from the area near Auburn, where Tuberville coached? Have many votes from Byrne’s congressional district been counted? Etc.

MORE: About 20 percent of the vote is in now. Tuberville has a 7 point lead over Sessions. Byrne is 9 points behind Sessions.

ALMOST HALF OF THE VOTE IS IN: Tuberville leads with 35 percent. Sessions has 31 percent. Byrne is a distant third with 23 percent.

Looking at Politico’s map of the state, it appears that Byrne’s counties have reported. The area around Auburn (if I remember my own trip there correctly) also seems to be mostly in. The counties that haven’t reported apparently in the far northwest and the south central areas of the state.

Sessions has done well in the adjacent counties, but Tuberville has carried a few of them.

I regret having to say that even if Sessions catches Tuberville tonight, I think his candidacy is in trouble. The stage is set for President Trump to endorse Tuberville if he’s so inclined (and I suspect he is). That would probably seal the deal for the “ball coach.”

IT’S CLEAR NOW that the runoff will be between Tuberville and Sessions. With 80 percent of the vote in, Tuberville leads Sessions by about 9,000 votes (1.5 points). So the runoff race could go either way.

I have the feeling, though, that Tuberville has the edge. Maybe Alabama Republicans have turned against Sessions to some extent because of Trump. Maybe Alabama Republicans are looking for a younger man.

Whatever the reason, I think Sessions’s performance tonight spells trouble for him. But then, I don’t really know much about Alabama politics, nor do I know what Trump’s and Byrne’s intentions are.