Tuberville staffer asks anti-abortion groups to float primaries against Republicans who oppose military holds

Tuberville staffer asks anti-abortion groups to float primaries against Republicans who oppose military holds

Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s spokesperson asked anti-abortion groups to “make clear” GOP senators risk primary challenges if they support an effort to overcome his military holds over a Pentagon abortion policy, according to an email obtained by POLITICO.

The email, written by Tuberville’s communications director Steven Stafford from his Senate email address, made clear that the Alabama Republican’s staff is worried that at least nine Republicans might join with Democrats to pass a resolution that would allow the Senate to bypass Tuberville’s holds. It was sent on Oct. 26, after news broke that senators were going to release a resolution that would allow the Senate to more easily stop Tuberville’s holds on more than 300 nominees up for military promotions.

“In my opinion it is imperative for all of the groups to make clear, in some words, that any Republican who votes for this will be primaried,” Stafford wrote. “In my view, if enough mushy middle Republicans come out in opposition, then this is over. But they only need nine squishes. And they will get there if we don’t act.”

When contacted by POLITICO, Stafford disputed the characterization that he was calling for primary challengers to Tuberville’s colleagues. In the email, he also makes clear several times it his opinion.

“That was a private email to a small group of people I thought were my friends, I was giving my personal opinion,” Stafford told POLITICO, when asked for comment. ”It is not the opinion of Coach, it was not on behalf of Coach. He was not aware of the email, and I have apologized to him for that.”

It’s a rare move for senators to float primaries against their own party members, and rarer still for staffers to do so. Senate ethics rules prohibit the use of “official resources” including staff time and the trappings of the chamber to do political or campaign work. That includes using a Senate email address, and whether Tuberville knew about the correspondence makes no difference. However, the Senate Ethics Committee seldom takes tangible action.

“He did a ‘no no,’” Tuberville said in a brief interview. “It wasn’t my statement. I totally disagree with that. We’re teammates here.”

Tuberville faced his first real intraparty battle on the Senate floor Wednesday night, when GOP senators led by Dan Sullivan of Alaska and Joni Ernst of Iowa tried to individually confirm 61 promotions that Tuberville is holding over the Pentagon’s abortion leave policy. Tuberville blocked every single one for more than four hours, leading Democrats to more overtly threaten passing a resolution from Sens. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) that would allow mass promotion of officers.

That resolution would need 60 votes to break a filibuster — something that remains in doubt even after Wednesday night’s floor fight.

Ursula Perano and Katherine Tully-McManus contributed to this report.

Go to Source