Alabama's New Governor Moves Up Special Election to Fill Sessions' Senate Seat

by | April 18, 2017

By Stephanie Taylor

Gov. Kay Ivey has moved the special election date for Jeff Sessions' former U.S. Senate seat.

Ivey set the primary for Aug. 15, with a runoff set for Sept. 26, and the general election for Dec. 12.

That's almost a year ahead of the date set by former Gov. Robert Bentley, who appointed Luther Strange to fill Sessions' seat.

"I promised to steady our ship of state. This means following the law, which clearly states the people should vote for a replacement U.S. Senator as soon as possible," Ivey said in a release. "The new U.S. Senate special election dates this year are a victory for the rule of law."

When Sessions was confirmed as U.S. attorney general on Feb. 8, it created a vacancy that Bentley, by law, had a right to fill. Bentley did so the following day, selecting Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange to fill Sessions' vacant seat.

Some legislators, including Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, said Bentley violated the law by preventing voters from choosing Sessions' replacement for 16 months.

On Tuesday, England said he appreciated Ivey's decision.

"I'm glad that she followed the law and set the election as soon as legally possible," England said. "Now we can begin the process of moving on past some of the darkest times in Alabama history."

Ivey signed a proclamation setting the elections dates at 9:21 a.m. Tuesday. She will speak to the press at a conference scheduled for noon.

"This is not a hastily-made decision. I consulted legal counsel, the finance director, Speaker McCutcheon, Senate President Del Marsh, and both budget chairmen since the cost to the General Fund could be great. However, following the law trumps the expense of a special election," Ivey said.

Strange said in a statement issued Tuesday that he will run for the position.

"As I've said before, I'm a candidate and I'm ready to run whether the election is next month or next year," he said. "As the only announced candidate for this office, I will spend the next several months being the best Senator I can be, upholding Alabama values and working with President Donald Trump to drain the swamp and help make America great again. The people of Alabama deserve nothing less and ultimately it will be up to them to decide who will represent them in Washington.

(c)2017 The Tuscaloosa News, Ala.