By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Wednesday, February 1, 2017, The Decatur Times Daily’s, Mary Sell reported that Alabama Governor Robert Bentley has narrowed his list of potential picks to replace US Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) if Sen. Sessions is confirmed as the next US Attorney General, a vote that is expected today.
According to Sell’s reporting, Bentley’s office said the six candidates still under consideration are: Congressman Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville); Director of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA); Donald Trump’s Alabama campaign co-chair former State representative Perry Hooper Jr. (R-Prattville); State Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh; State Representative Connie Rowe (R-Jasper); and Attorney General Luther Strange.
Alabama Trump Co-Chairman former state Representative Perry O. Hooper Jr. thanked Governor Bentley for considering him for the US Senate Appointment. Rep. Hooper said in a statement, “It is an honor to be considered by the Governor as a replacement for Senator Jeff Sessions. I thank Governor Bentley for including me in his short list and I look forward to the possibility of representing the great state of Alabama in Washington.”
Rep. Hooper said, “I want to also thank all the thousands and thousands of people who signed petitions on my behalf. And the countless people that wrote letters to the Governor and made calls as well. There has been a real ground swell of support around me and I am simply honored that so many people want me to be their next Senator.”
Alabama Trump Co-Chairman State Representative Jim Carns (R-Vestavia) said, “Perry O. would be an outstanding Senator for the great state of Alabama. He worked tirelessly for the Trump campaign and has a record that Alabamians can be proud of. What excites me the most about Perry being considered for the Senate Appointment is that he would be the first Donald Trump Senator. He would be the Presidents chief advocate in the Senate and that means a lot for the state of Alabama.”
Notably absent from the Governor’s short list is suspended Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore. Moore was the most recommended candidate by the members of the Alabama Republican Executive Committee, but after Gov. Bentley interviewed Moore, national mainstream media pundits blasted a Moore appointment.
The most controversial choice on the Governor’s short list would be Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange. Strange has reportedly empaneled a secret criminal grand jury to investigate the conduct of Gov. Bentley. When the House Judiciary Committee was about to hold hearings on whether or not to impeach the Governor over alleged ethical improprieties, including payments made to his alleged mistress, former top political advisor Rebekah Caldwell Mason; it was Strange that asked the Chairman of the Committee to halt the House investigation. If Bentley sends Strange to Washington DC; then Bentley would pick Strange’s replacement.
Pointedly Kayla Moore, the wife of Chief Justice Moore, shared on Facebook, “The House Judiciary Committee recently announced it would suspend an impeachment investigation into Bentley until it received the go-ahead from Strange. The committee, which was investigating if Bentley committed any impeachable offenses during a relationship with former adviser Rebekah Caldwell Mason, said its work stoppage came at the request of Strange who said his office was conducting “related work.”
Former Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) Director and new Selma Police Chief Spencer Collier told US News and World Report, “That’s what the governor would call a twofer.” Collier added, “I think he would have very nefarious reasons to do that,” speaking about a potential Strange appointment. “Whether it’s a crime or not, it’s just going to take the breath out of the people of Alabama.”
Alabama Political Reporter Editor Bill Britt reported weeks ago that ADECA director Jim Byard would be Bentley’s choice to replace Jeff Sessions in the Senate.
Sessions is expected to be confirmed by the Senate.
(Original reporting by The Decatur Times Daily and US News and World Report contributed to this report.)