Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announced Wednesday that due to coronavirus concerns she will postpone the primary runoff elections in her state -- a vote that will feature former Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Trump-endorsed former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville vying for the right to challenge Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., in November.
The contest, originally scheduled for March 31, will now happen on July 14. Sessions previously held the Senate seat Jones now occupies before he vacated it to become attorney general.
"Delaying the election to July 14 is not a decision I came to lightly, but one of careful consideration," Ivey said. "I appreciate the guidance of Attorney General Steve Marshall and Secretary of State John H. Merrill for their collaboration to ensure the continuity of our state government."
Ivey's announcement means Alabama will join the five states, plus Puerto Rico, that have delayed their upcoming elections due to coronavirus concerns. All of those jurisdictions, however, have put off presidential primary elections. Alabama's presidential primary happened earlier this month on Super Tuesday.
"I am grateful to Governor Ivey and General Marshall for their proactive leadership, sincere dedication, and spirit of teamwork displayed during these trying times,” Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said. “It is critical that we provide a safe and secure environment for all 3,585,209 voters in the State of Alabama to participate in the electoral process."
In a March 10 tweet, President Trump announced his endorsement of Tuberville, calling him a "REAL LEADER who will never let MAGA/KAG, or our Country, down!"
Sessions responded to the endorsement by saying he intended to appeal to Alabama citizens, not Trump.
"Of course, President Trump can endorse anyone he chooses for the U.S. Senate election in Alabama," Sessions tweeted at the time. "But the Constitution expressly empowers the people of Alabama, and only them, to select their Senator. I intend to take my case directly to the people of Alabama."
Trump has said he thinks business and public life in the U.S. can resume as usual by July or August, meaning the Sessions-Tuberville runoff will take place right at the edge of the timeframe that the president and many experts and officials have said they think the coronavirus crisis may abate.
July 14, however, is later than any other state has postponed an election up to this point. Those governments have been handcuffed in how much they can delay their presidential primaries because the Democratic National Convention is currently scheduled for mid-July.