Alabama Republicans praying Trump stays out of their Senate primary election: report
The party of US President Donald Trump has suffered stinging electoral defeats. (AFP/File / MANDEL NGAN)

On Saturday, the Washington Post reported that Alabama Republicans are hoping President Donald Trump does not intervene in the Senate primary to challenge Democratic Sen. Doug Jones.

The race has attracted a number of big Republican names, given that Jones is expected to be the most vulnerable incumbent senator in either party this November.

The biggest name in the contest is former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who held the seat in the first place before being named to the Trump administration, but also competing with him are former football coach Tommy Tuberville, Rep. Bradley Byrne, state Rep. Arnold Mooney, and former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore — the GOP's previous nominee who lost to Jones after multiple accusations of child molestation.

“I would hope [Trump] wouldn’t [interfere], but if he does, we’ll see," said senior Sen. Richard Shelby. "But I think that it’s Sessions’s race to win. I think it’s his."

"I just would be surprised," said Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). "Senator Shelby has asked the president to stay out, and I think the president wants to win the seat, and I would be surprised if he jumped in a runoff."

Recent polls have suggested Sessions is the favorite to win the primary, which will advance to a runoff if the top two vote-getters if no one gets a majority. The question mark is whether Trump, who fired Sessions after a tense relationship over how to run the Justice Department, will weigh in against him, which could benefit runner-up Tuberville.

Sessions, seemingly cognizant of this risk, has run primary ads that tout his loyalty to the president, and appear at times to be speaking more to him than to the voters of the state.