Sessions’ Nomination Sets Off Political Jockeying for Alabama Senate Seat

Governor was scheduled to meet with congressional delegation Friday

Alabama Rep. Robert Aderholt had already asked his state’s governor to appoint him to a possible vacant Senate seat, should Sen. Jeff Sessions accept a Cabinet position. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Donald Trump’s decision to nominate Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions for attorney general has the Yellowhammer State’s politicians eyeing their next moves. 

Sessions’ selection wasn’t unexpected. As one of Trump’s earliest and most vocal defenders on Capitol Hill, he had long been mentioned as a top pick for various Cabinet positions. That speculation set off plenty of angling among the state’s GOP politicos before Friday’s announcement. 

Longtime Rep. Robert B. Aderholt had already asked Republican Gov. Robert Bentley to appoint him to fill the junior senator’s seat before Sessions was officially tapped on Friday. An interim senator would hold the seat until a special election either in 2017 or during the 2018 elections. 

“Having spent 20 years here, I feel like I at least understand how the structure works up here and I would be someone who could hit the ground running,” Aderholt told the Montgomery Advertiser on Thursday.

Aderholt isn’t the only member of the delegation whose name has been floated. Bentley was scheduled to be in Washington, D.C., Friday to meet with Alabama lawmakers. 

Rep. Martha Roby was quick to congratulate Sessions on his selection in a video post on Twitter Friday morning. The three-term congresswoman withdrew her support of Trump as the GOP presidential nominee after the release of the 2005 “Access Hollywood” recording last month.

Her opposition to Trump earned her a significant write-in challenge last week. In a state where every GOP representative won re-election by at least 30 points, Roby only won by 9 points, deepening speculation that she’ll face another primary in 2018

Rep. Mo Brooks has said he’d be interested, while Rep. Bradley Byrne told the Montgomery Advertiser he is not interested in seeking the Senate seat. 

GOP operatives also cite Attorney General Luther Strange as a potential candidate, but he’s currently investigating the governor, which could prove awkward if he wants Bentley to appoint him to Sessions’ seat. 

Jim Byard Jr., director of Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, is also in the mix. Bentley named him to the post, which is part of his Cabinet, in 2011. 

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