When then US Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) was up for confirmation as Attorney General we noted that the machinations to replace him were “complicated”.
The biggest complication, then and now, is that the Governor of Alabama, Republican Robert Bentley, is embroiled a personal scandal that threatens his tenure. The state legislature was investigating the Governor when the state’s Attorney General asked them to halt their investigation while that office conducted what it termed, “necessary related work”, though the AG never said he was formerly investigating the Governor.
Who was the AG? Luther Strange. He’s now Senator Strange (R-AL) after being appointed by Bentley to replace Sessions.
With an opening in the state’s AG position the Governor appointed Steve Marshall to the post. Marshall promptly released a statement confirming what many suspected all along.
“In his letter of Nov. 3, 2016, Attorney General (Luther) Strange requested that the House Judiciary Committee cease active interviews and investigation until necessary related work of the Attorney General’s Office has been completed.
“After meeting with the staff of the Special Prosecutions Division of the Attorney General’s Office concerning the status of a possible investigation of Governor Bentley, I have determined to recuse myself from the aforementioned related work and have appointed former Montgomery County District Attorney Ellen Brooks to serve as supernumerary district attorney leading the investigation.”
Bentley could have named Strange to the US Senate and then called for a special election at any point of his choosing. Instead he announced the wouldn’t hold an election to fill the rest of Sessions’ term (which runs through 2020) until the general election in November of 2018. That will give Strange a leg up against potential challenger by allowing him to run as a longer term incumbent than if the special election had been held in a few months.