INSIDE THE STATEHOUSE
by Steve Flowers
Throughout this year’s prodigious presidential selection process our junior senator, Jeff Sessions, has been at the forefront. He has become the darling of the extreme right throughout the country. He is and has been one of the most conservative members of the U.S. Senate for close to two decades now. Throughout his entire tenure in the Senate, he has been consistently ranked as one of the five most conservative members of this august body.
It is because of Sessions staunch conservatism that he is probably the most popular major political figure in Alabama. He adroitly reflects the philosophy and values of arguably the most conservative state in America.
His support and endorsement was sought by all of the GOP presidential contenders. His hardline approach on the immigration issue put him in line early with Donald Trump. Even still during the GOP presidential debates the other candidates, especially Ted Cruz, would imply that Sessions liked him. He was identified early on as being supportive of Donald Trump. Although he never officially endorsed Trump, he appeared at Trump’s campaign rallies in Mobile and Huntsville with a Trump hat on.
Sessions showed a wise and shrewd side by knowing that Alabamians have always resented one politician endorsing or getting involved in a race other than their own. Novice politicians of recent years, like Bob Riley and Robert Bentley, would arrogantly endorse people who systematically lost because of their endorsement. They lacked the knowledge of Alabama political history that Alabamians resent this interference. George Wallace in the prime of his political popularity would occasionally endorse someone and they always lost. Wallace eventually quit doing it.
A good example would be that during this year’s Alabama Republican Primary, Sessions subtly sided with Trump and he got over 60 percent of the vote in Alabama and Bentley endorsed Ohio Governor John Kasich and he got less than 4 percent of the vote in the state.
Sessions is a consistent guest on the conservative news network, Fox. He is adored nationwide by the country’s conservative base. He epitomizes the gold standard of conservatism on social and fiscal policy. He is even more respected and trusted by the right because they can tell that his heart is in it and he does not harbor aspirations to be president.
Sessions has become Trump’s go to guy in the U.S. Senate. Sessions held a meeting early on to get Trump acquainted with his Republican Senate colleagues. Trump would probably have liked for Sessions to have been his vice presidential running mate. However, Sessions would not have brought anything to the table in the Electoral College process. The hardcore right wing is already in Trump’s corner and, like I always say, Alabama would vote for the Republican nominee if he was named Donald Duck, especially given how far left the Democratic Party has drifted under the leadership of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, III was born in Wilcox County but has called Mobile home his entire adult life. He is a true blue lifetime arch conservative Republican. He was a young Republican leader while a college student at Huntingdon College. He campaigned for Goldwater. He served as a Republican U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama for twelve years. Sessions was elected Attorney General of Alabama in 1994. He was elected to the U.S. Senate two years later in 1996.
Therefore, Sessions has been representing us in the U.S. Senate for 20 years. He will be 70 years old on Christmas Eve. If Donald Trump were to be elected president, he would probably offer Sessions a cabinet post as either Secretary of State or Secretary of Homeland Security or maybe even a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. People who know Sessions well believe that he would leave the Senate for one of these posts. If that were to occur, his successor would be appointed by the governor. It would be a plum appointment. We will see.
See you next week.
Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.