MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The Latest on the 2020 Alabama Senate race (all times local):
U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby said former attorney general Jeff Sessions has not ruled out running for his old Senate seat and would be a "formidable" candidate if he did.
Shelby told reporters Tuesday that his former colleague would make a "formidable" candidate, but "Senator Sessions first would have to decide does he want to come back to the Senate."
Shelby said he has spoken with President Donald Trump about the race and spoke with Sessions last week. He said Sessions "hasn't made a 'Sherman statement,'" referring to the Civil War general's refusal to run for president.
The senator said the "real question" is if Sessions wants to come back.
The president and the former attorney general had a public falling out over the Russia probe, and Shelby said it's unclear if they could reach a "detente."
— Lisa Mascaro, AP reporter in Washington
Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill is joining a growing field of Republican primary candidates competing for a chance to unseat Democratic Sen. Doug Jones next year.
Merrill announced his candidacy Tuesday in a press conference at the Alabama Capitol.
He said Alabama needs a "proven conservative" in the Senate seat who will support President Donald Trump on immigration, judicial appointments and other issues.
With 100 supporters standing behind him, Merrill said Jones would be better suited to representing New York or California.
The 55-year-old Republican is a former member of the Alabama Legislature.
Also running in the GOP primary are former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville, legislator Arnold Mooney and businessman Stanley Adair.