March 11, 2020

Texas GOP Congressional Member Could Be Picking Fight
with Unforgiving President with Stance in Alabama Election

By Mike Hailey
Capitol Inside Editor

Rookie Republican U.S. Rep. Chip Roy is playing with fire after breaking ranks with President Donald Trump on Wednesday when he rallied behind Jeff Sessions in a GOP primary runoff battle for the U.S. Senate in Alabama.

Roy - an Austin attorney who's facing Democratic challenger Wendy Davis in the November general election - pitched his support to Sessions in a tweet that portrayed the former attorney general as an unwavering champion for immigration restrictions and enforcement.

"I stand with @jeffsessions," Roy declared in a Twitter post. "He will stand for a secure border no matter what anyone else does, or does not do. We know this. So do the many forces for open borders - in both parties, in executive & legislative branches - who would love Sessions NOT to be holding them to account."

Sessions finished a close second to former Auburn football coach Tommy Turbeville in the GOP primary election last week in his bid for a return ticket to the U.S. Senate where he'd served for 20 years before joining the original Trump cabinet in 2017 as the top official at the Department of Justice. Turbeville and Sessions received 33 percent and 32 percent of the Super Tuesday vote respectively.

Roy's intervention in the Alabama overtime fight is a defiant and potentially dangerous move in light of the fact that Trump has been backing Turbeville enthusiastically while accusing Sessions of disloyalty and cowardice for recusing himself from the investigation into Russian meddling in American elections during the stint as AG.

Sessions bowed out of the probe to avoid conflict of interest perceptions in light of the role that he'd had with the Trump campaign. Robert Mueller was appointed as the special counsel to spearhead the inquiry in Sessions' absence. Trump contended that voters in the southern state were punishing Sessions for failing to have the president's back when he finished second at the polls last week.

"This is what happens to someone who loyally gets appointed Attorney General of the United States & then doesn’t have the wisdom or courage to stare down & end the phony Russia Witch Hunt," Trump tweeted. "Recuses himself on FIRST DAY in office, and the Mueller Scam begins!"

Roy has been one of the Texas congressional delegation's most conservative members since he entered Congress early last year. But Roy could face major repercussions for his position in the Alabama Senate competition in light of Trump's history of seeking revenge against Republicans who fail to march in lockstep with him.

Roy captured the Congressional District 21 seat in an open race in November 2018 when Trump fired Sessions from his job as the nation's top lawyer. Roy had run as a significant favorite in a district that had been safely Republican before defeating Democrat Joseph Kopser by less than 3 percentage points at the ballot box 16 months ago. Kopser came closer to an upset in CD 21 than Democrat Beto O'Rourke had in an unsuccessful bid to unseat Republican U.S. Ted Cruz in the battle at the top of the ballot that year.

Davis is a much more formidable foe, however, as a former state senator who reaped a windfall of publicity when she ran for governor in 2014 after a historic filibuster against an abortion restrictions measure the previous year. Davis had raised almost $2.2 million from contributors by the middle of February compared to donations of less than $1.8 million that Roy reported.

Davis crushed a Democratic primary foe with more than 86 percent of the Super Tuesday vote while Roy ran unopposed in round one.


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