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Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange Named To Replace Jeff Sessions In Senate

With Jeff Sessions now confirmed and sworn in as Attorney General, it falls to Alabama Governor Robert Bentley to name a replacement and he has selected Attorney General Luther Strange to fill the role:

Gov. Robert Bentley today announced he has selected state Attorney General Luther Strange to replace Jeff Sessions in the United States Senate.

Sessions on Wednesday was confirmed as the next U.S. Attorney General by a 52-47 vote and was sworn in by President Donald Trump.

Strange, one of Bentley’s six finalists for the job, emerged as a likely favorite on Wednesday.

“This is truly a remarkable time in our state’s history,” Bentley said in a press release this morning. “Alabama has surely been well represented by Senator Sessions, and I am confident Senator Strange will serve as a fine representative for our people. His leadership on a national level, service as a statewide elected official and long record of taking on tough federal issues are the very qualities that will make him a strong conservative Senator for Alabama.”

Strange was also quoted in the statement.

“I am greatly honored and humbled to accept the appointment to Alabama’s Senate seat vacated by Senator Jeff Sessions,” Strange said. “Senator Sessions’ commitment to public service is nearly unparalleled in Alabama history and his departure from the Senate leaves tremendous shoes to fill.  I pledge to the people of Alabama to continue the same level of leadership as Jeff Sessions in consistently fighting to protect and advance the conservative values we all care about.”

Strange will serve a Senator at least until a Special Election is held in 2018 to fill out the remainder of Sessions’ term, which expires in 2020. Strange had already announced that he would be a candidate in that Special Election regardless of whether or not he was named to fill the seat on an interim basis. Additionally, Strange’s appointment comes at an odd time in Alabama politics and its hard not to wonder if the Governor didn’t have ulterior motives in this appointment:

The appointment comes four months after Strange asked the Alabama House Judiciary Committee to suspend an investigation into impeachment articles against Bentley because his office was conducting a related investigation.

“I respectfully request that the Committee cease active interviews and investigation until I am able to report to you that the necessary related work of my office has been completed,” Strange wrote in a Nov. 3 letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Mike Jones, who agreed to suspend the proceedings.

Jones said the committee wanted to cooperate with the attorney general’s office but will resume its investigation when the request for the suspension is withdrawn.

The impeachment investigation was related to allegations that Bentley had an affair with former political adviser Rebekah Mason and whether state resources were used to facilitate the relationship.

Bentley and Mason have denied having an affair and the governor has denied doing breaking any laws or doing anything to warrant impeachment.

Strange has said he never specifically said his office was investigating the governor.

Kyle Whitmore of AL.com writes that the appointment of Strange, which gives Bentley the authority to name his successor as Attorney General of Alabama, is a new low for his state:

Now, though, I just feel pity. Imagine, what it must feel like to step from prison a free man again, to see something like this, the most politically corrupt act in Alabama politics in my lifetime, if not his: The appointment of Luther Strange to the United States Senate.

Gov. Robert Bentley and Attorney General … I mean … Senator Strange made me feel sorry for Don Siegelman, and until this morning I didn’t think that was possible.

To emerge from that prison, having spent years behind bars, much of it in solitary, only to see the current governor and attorney general acting like this — that’s the cruelest punishment I can imagine.

I first wrote about the possibility of a deal like this in November, when it became clear that Jeff Sessions would be climbing the ladder to join the Trump administration. The column was a joke: Robert Bentley having his Rod Blagojevich moment, with the ghost of Blago’s ego whispering bad ideas into Bentley’s ear, tempting him to save himself by offering the guy investigating him for crimes a deal of a lifetime.

I’m not trying to get credit for saying “I told you so” because at the time I didn’t really believe what I was writing, myself. In part I was trying to send a message: Don’t you even think about it. It was a flight of fancy, a worst-case-scenario, a sick little fantasy of what it might be like to be inside the mind of a lonely, desperate man trying to save himself. I wrote it because it was fun.

And then it all came true.

On Thursday morning, Bentley appointed Strange to the Senate. Next, he will get to pick Strange’s replacement as Alabama Attorney General. And you can bet that whoever he chooses will have strong opinions about special investigations in Montgomery politics.

Already we’ve seen Bentley appoint Stan Stabler to lead the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, only for Stabler to next cook up a half-baked report accusing his predecessor, Spencer Collier of wrongdoings. Those accusations were rejected by a grand jury and Collier was all but exonerated.

(…)

It’s so nakedly political that someone should charge them with indecent exposure.

But who? Not the state authorities. The feds? Don’t bet on Attorney Gen. Jeff Sessions riding to the rescue.

Nope. This, Alabama, is the government we elected, and it’s the government we’re stuck with.

I’m not here to say “I told you so” because I was wrong. This was Bentley’s Blagojevich moment, alright, but there is one big difference.

Bentley might just get away with it.

Forget Rod Blagojevich. This is a move worthy of Frank Underwood.

In any case, the new Senator from Alabama was sworn in this afternoon. So say hello to Senator Strange. Sounds like something out of a comic book if you ask me.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. CSK says:

    Senator Strangelove?

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  2. RGardner says:

    I guess Judge Roy Moore is unavailable.

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  3. bill says:

    @CSK: sounds like a novel/horror story!

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  4. al-Alameda says:

    Is Alabama in America (I mean, except for Huntsville, where there are actual scientists, stuff like that?)

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  5. JohnMcC says:

    Thank you for this explanation. When I saw that Gov Bentley had made the appointment it seemed obvious that some such chicanery was involved.

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  6. SenyorDave says:

    I grew up in Jersey, and I’m used to dishonest politicians. But the deep south seems to be in a class by itself with their ability to produce corrupt, sleazy politicians, and then continue to re-elect those people even when they have been shown to be corrupt.

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  7. Franklin says:

    @CSK: Luther Strange … wow. That is definitely a comic book character mashup.

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  8. pennywit says:

    Is it just me, or does “Luther Strange” sound like an excellent name for a supervillain?

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  9. CSK says:

    @bill@pennywit:

    Lex Luther Strange

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  10. its hard not to wonder if the Governor didn’t have ulterior motives in this appointment:

    No wondering needed. It was a brazen, naked power move.

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  11. @al-Alameda:

    Is Alabama in America (I mean, except for Huntsville, where there are actual scientists, stuff like that?)

    There is more than a little Latin America in our politics down here.

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