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Tommy Tuberville leading poll for Alabama Republican Senate nomination

Tommy Tuberville isn't just running for the United States Senate in Alabama. He might just win the dang thing.

A Cygnal poll of likely 2020 Alabama Republican primary voters released Wednesday found the former Auburn head coach leading the field with 29.3 percent of the vote. That's nearly an 8 percent lead over Bradley Byrne, no relation to Alabama athletics director Greg Byrne. The poll found Tuberville well ahead of Roy Moore, who garnered 13 percent of the vote, while John Merrill came in fourth at 11.8 percent. Twenty-two percent of the 612 likely voters polled remain undecided.

Byrne is a U.S. Congressman representing Alabama's 1st district, while Merrill is currently Alabama's secretary of state. Moore was the Republican nominee in Alabama's 2017 special election who, ah, memorably lost to Doug Jones, a Democrat.

The winner of the 2020 Republican primary will challenge for Jones' seat. Jones in 2017 became the first Democrat to win a state-wide race in Alabama in nearly a decade, so the winner of the 2020 GOP primary stands at worst a solid chance to win the general election next November.

While Alabama is a heavily Republican state, Tuberville is the closest thing to a bipartisan candidate the Yellowhammer State can have. Respondents to the Cygnal poll found Tuberville carries a 56/17 favorable/unfavorable rating despite the fact Alabamians prefer the Crimson Tide over Auburn by a 53/23 margin.

Tuberville would not be the first recent coach to go from the sidelines to Capitol Hill. Former Nebraska head coach Tom Osborne served as the Representative for the state's 3rd district from 2001-07. However, Tuberville's election would be more impressive given Osborne did not have to overcome the pigskin partisan bias that Tuberville faces.

What's notable about the Cygnal poll is that Tuberville's 29 percent is actually ahead of the 23 percent support the coach had in a poll from earlier this month that was sponsored by Tuberville's own campaign.

If elected, Tuberville could have a hand in deciding whether the United States government could force the NCAA to amend its amateurism rules, as the concept is currently being pushed by Democratic Senator Chris Murphy from Connecticut.

The 2020 Republican primary takes place on March 3, 2020.