Heard on the Hill

Take Five: Luther Strange

Newest senator is staying with another tall guy in D.C.

Alabama’s Luther Strange was appointed to fill out the term of former Sen. Jeff Sessions, now the attorney general. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Freshman Republican Sen. Luther Strange of Alabama, who replaced Attorney General Jeff Sessions, talks about his height, first impressions of the Senate, and when his dog will join him in D.C.

Q: How do you feel about being the tallest senator in modern history? [Editor’s note: Strange is 6 feet 9 inches tall]

A: It was nice to make history when you haven’t even done anything yet. It was kind of funny because it was a topic of conversation when I met my colleagues. There are a number of tall senators — Tom Cotton, John Thune and [Richard] Shelby all were arguing about who is the tallest senator until I got there and then I think I may have upset former Sen. [Alan] Simpson, who was the tallest. The other interesting thing is they’ve been saving a lectern. They’ve got me using [former Sen. Jay] Rockefeller’s. He was about 6’7”. Not as tall as I am, but pretty tall. I haven’t spoken yet but when I do, I’ll have a tall lectern.

Tom McMillen was a three-term congressman from Maryland. He is the tallest member of Congress. Period. He’s 6’11”. The funny thing is, he’s letting me stay at his house while we get our apartment. It’s the two tallest guys — the tallest guy in history, plus me. It’s great because his house has got tall everything.

[Alan Simpson Is No Longer the Tallest Senator, and He’s OK With That]

Q: What’s your favorite thing you’ve done since joining the Senate?

A: I went over and sat in the chamber and listened to Ben Sasse deliver George Washington’s Farewell Address. I was the only senator in the chamber. I guess everybody else has heard it before and done that, but I was just so impressed. I thought, as a brand new member, it would be very important for me to sit and listen to that because it’s so significant. It really brings home what that institution and our country is all about. At the end, Sen. Sasse came over and thanked me for being his audience because it made it easier to talk to someone in the audience.

Strange served as Alabama attorney general for six years before his Senate appointment. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Strange served as Alabama attorney general for six years before his Senate appointment. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Q: What have you learned about the Senate so far?

A: I love history so I’m learning something every day. There are a million things I didn’t know. I think the thing that’s impressed me the most has been the fantastic professionalism of the officials in the Senate. I was thrown into the chair pretty early for a vote to confirm Ben Carson and so, the parliamentarian is fantastic at making sure you’re prepared to handle whatever the issue is on the votes and reconsidering things.

[What’s in a Strange Name?]

Q: What do you miss about everyday life in Alabama?

A: The thing I miss the most by far is my black lab. We had to leave her at home in the move, so I’m really hoping that we’ll be able to bring her up here soon. She’s a very sweet dog. I got her seven years ago when I was elected attorney general. It’s really important if you’re in politics to have a loyal friend. I miss my dog. [laughter] She’ll be on her way. We just got an apartment. … We’ll move in this weekend.

[Take Five: John Kennedy]

Q: Tell me about your basketball career.

A: I was recruited at Alabama and at Auburn to play basketball. I had to make my first political decision because I come from a divided household — in Alabama, that means my mother went to [the University of] Alabama and my father went to Auburn. So I went to Tulane. I played four years at Tulane on scholarship so it’s a great way to get college paid for and I still am close to my teammates who I played with years ago. 

Quick HitsLast book read: “Master of the Senate” by Robert Caro. My son gave it to me when I knew we were coming up here.

Last movie seen: “Hacksaw Ridge”

Favorite song of all time: Anything Motown. My Pandora’s pretty eclectic though, it’s all over the map.

Role model: The coaches that I had growing up, in high school and my college coaches.

Closest to in Congress: Hands down, it’s Sen. [Richard] Shelby. He and I have known each other for 30 years.

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