By Morgan Bryce
Longtime college football coach and current candidate for Alabama’s U.S. Senate seat Tommy Tuberville visited with Opelika Observer staff on Monday to discuss his ideas and platforms to tackle statewide issues.
The seat, presently held by Democrat Doug Jones, became vacant after Jeff Sessions accepted an Attorney General position in President Donald Trump’s administration. In a specially called election in December 2017, Jones narrowly defeated longtime Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore to fill the open position.
Presently, Tuberville’s focus is on the March 3 primary election, where voters will have to cast votes for him or three other candidates: Bradley Byrne, Moore and current Secretary of State John Merrill.
Following is a background on Tuberville and an overview of his platform and goals in office if elected.
A Camden, Arkansas native, Tuberville is one of three children. His father, Charles, was a highly decorated WWII veteran and Purple Heart recipient.
In high school, Tuberville showcased his football talents at Harmony Grove High School. He went on to attend Southern Arkansas University where he played safety for the Muleriders as well as play for two years on the school’s golf team.
Following college, Tuberville accepted a coaching position with Hermitage High School, spending two years as an assistant and two years as head coach. His success helped him land an assistant coaching position at Arkansas State University from 1980 to 1984.
Tuberville’s career took off at the University of Miami, where he served as a graduate assistant and later as defensive coordinator, coaching some of the greatest athletes in college football history like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Ray Lewis and Warren Sapp. After a season in Texas A&M, he left to become the head coach of Ole Miss’s program.
After three successful seasons and being named the AP’s SEC Coach of the Year in 1997, Tuberville accepted the coaching position at Auburn University, arguably his most notable stint in his coaching career. During his 10 seasons as the head of the Tigers, he compiled an 85-40 overall record, including coaching the 2004 team to a 13-0 record and a 16-13 Sugar Bowl victory over Virginia Tech.
Texas Tech and Cincinnati were Tuberville’s next coaching stops before he departed the college football world. Overall, he finished with 159-99 record in his career and 7-6 mark in bowl games.
Tuberville and his wife Suzanne have been married since 1991, have two children named Tucker and Troy and are active members of the Church of Christ.
Self-identifying as a “Christian conservative” and staunch Trump supporter, Tuberville said his message has been well received by prospective voters during the early portion of his campaign.
“Everybody is wanting to know why I’m doing this. They say, ‘you don’t need the money’ or ‘you don’t need the hassle’ or ‘it’s a thankless job’ … but I’m doing it for the people, not myself,” Tuberville said.
Improving Alabama’s education and overall infrastructure as well as defending the state’s freedoms and liberties are Tuberville’s top priorities.
A “strong opponent” of Common Core, Tuberville said he blames Democrats and liberals for declines in education quality and wants to work for a common-sense way to help it improve.
“One of the main if not the most important issue brought up to me by people on the campaign trail is education. It’s something I’ve done for 40 years and I’m very concerned by what I’m seeing,” Tuberville said. “The secret to freedom is education. If people receive a true education, they learn civics and learn what this country is about – how and why we started and how we got to this point.”
Both Alabama’s and the nation’s decaying transportation systems are of concern to Tuberville, and something he hopes to address by helping allocate funding from social into infrastructure programs.
“We’ve kicked the can down the road for far too long. I read the other day that nearly 50,000 bridges are on the brink of (being unusable) … and Alabama’s roads and bridges are terrible,” Tuberville said. “Nearly 75% of our tax money is spent on social programs and we don’t put it back into the system. It’s like a business, if you don’t put money back into it, it’ll fall apart on you.”
Another issue near and dear to Tuberville’s heart is the overall quality of life for Alabama’s veterans. If elected, he wants to trim the red-tape bureaucracy surrounding the state’s VA system for access to affordable healthcare “for our heroes.”
Following are Tuberville’s other main issues and platforms:
- advocating for Trump’s proposed measures for border security and immigration policies
- expanding trade school opportunities for Alabama students
- improving rural Alabamian’s access to broadband internet services
- lowering taxes and trimming the national deficit
- maintaining statewide gun rights
protecting Alabama’s ban on abortions
- repealing and replacing Obamacare and return to a free-market system to incentivize competition, lower health care costs and obtaining a higher level of care.
Despite it being his first run for political office, Tuberville’s message is resonating with a large core of Republican voters, with recent CYGNA polls showing him leading the GOP field at 29% percent.
With his conservative platform and statewide name recognition from being a successful college football coach at Auburn, Tuberville said he expects a challenging road ahead but is optimistic that he will be able to recapture the seat for the Republican Party.
“It’ll be hard both in the primary and general election, whoever has to face off against (Doug) Jones. But, at the end of the day, the people of Alabama are going to elect somebody that has capitalistic views, believes in this country, are patriotic and believe in Trump,” Tuberville said.
For more information or updates about his campaign, follow his Facebook page or visit www.tommyforsenate.com.