Tags: Donald Trump | GOP2016 | jeff sessions | alabama | robert bentley

Buzz Ramps Up Over Who Will Succeed Sen. Jeff Sessions

Image: Buzz Ramps Up Over Who Will Succeed Sen. Jeff Sessions

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley speaks to press in Montgomery, Ala. (AP)

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Monday, 26 Dec 2016 12:39 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Through Alabama's Sen. Jeff Sessions faces heated confirmation hearings for the attorney general position in Trump's Cabinet, the topic of who succeeds him has D.C. abuzz.

And that's not the only news making headlines in Alabama: This year, Montgomery was rocked by the personal exploits of two-term Republican Gov. Robert Bentley. Bentley has been mired in a controversy surrounding alleged inappropriate contact with a female political adviser while on state property. The embattled governor has admitted to the charges but insisted he violated no state laws. Several Republican lawmakers have filed impeachment motions against the governor, pointing to the fact Bentley made the calls on state property.

And the Republican long regarded as heir apparent to Sessions’s seat is the official in charge of determining whether Bentley broke the law: State Attorney General Luther Strange, Jr., the state’s top law enforcement officer.

The Republican long regarded as heir apparent to Sessions’ seat is, ironically, the official in charge of determining whether Bentley broke the law: State Attorney General Luther Strange Jr.

Obviously aware of the precarious position an appointment to the Senate by Bentley would put him in, Strange announced earlier this month that he would not seek appointment but, rather, run in the special election next year to fill the remainder of Sessions’ term.

In the days leading up to Christmas, Bentley had been holding Trump-style auditions of possible appointees to the Senate. These range from the very possible (20-year-Rep. Robert Aderholt) to the near-impossible (Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, seemingly wed to controversy over causes ranging from public posting of the Ten Commandments to not recognizing same-sex marriages).

But the latest thrust in the nomination spotlight is Aderholt, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee on Agriculture and co-chairman of Congressional Prayer Breakfast.

But a growing number of state Republicans are warning that it might not be good for their state to lose Aderholt’s seniority and influence in the House. Their preference for the Senate appointment are the two Birmingham-area Republican House Members: sophomore Gary Palmer and four-termer Mo Brooks.

Both lawmakers are members of the House Freedom Caucus, and have a history of involvement with the conservative movement. Palmer was formerly head of the conservative Alabama Policy Institute, while Brooks is fond of taking on Democrats from Barack Obama on down that he brands “socialists.”

The successor to Sessions will be determined with a primary and run-off and a special election for only the third time since 1946. Where the previous two special elections featured Democratic primaries that were all-important, the 2018 contest will essentially be decided in the Republican primary.

Alabama Democrats do have a few officeholders with star quality — notably Walt Maddox, centrist mayor of Tuscaloosa. But it is highly unlikely Maddox or any other Democrat with a future will make the Senate race.

For now, all eyes will be focused on who gets the appointment to the soon-to-be vacant seat and whether it helps or hurts a candidate to be appointed by Robert Bentley.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

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Through Alabama's Sen. Jeff Sessions faces heated confirmation hearings for the attorney general position in Trump's Cabinet, the topic of who succeeds him has D.C. abuzz.
jeff sessions, alabama, robert bentley
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2016-39-26
Monday, 26 Dec 2016 12:39 PM
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