By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter
In interviews for Jeff Sessions’ vacant Senate seat, Luther Strange promised to “do more” to help former Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley. And state Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, “seemed angry” and allegedly threatened to “f—k with” Bentley for the next two years if he wasn’t appointed, according to handwritten notes Bentley made from the interviews.
Those notes, forwarded to the Alabama Archives and obtained by The Alabama Political Reporter, show that Bentley ranked the six candidates – who Bentley interviewed – in six different categories: Interview strength, their appointment’s trickle-down effect on the state, knowledge of federal issues, Republican delegation relations, recommendations and direct benefit the candidates would have on the state if appointed.
Strange had the overall highest score, according to Bentley’s notes, followed by U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Gadsen; former ADECA Director Jim Byard; former legislator Perry Hooper; and state Rep. Connie Rowe, R-Jasper.
Bentley’s notes also include his thoughts on five of the six candidates’ interviews. Marsh was added after Bentley set the leading five candidates.
For Strange, Bentley wrote that the then-attorney general of the state was “close to the EPA,” was as “knowledgeable as a congressman” on federal issues and was “indirectly” endorsed by U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala. Under the category of “state benefit,” Bentley quotes Strange saying, “I can do more for you (the state agenda) as senator than I can as AG.”
Also in the notes, Bentley goes into detail about his decision to add Marsh, including delving into rumors and the fact that he almost didn’t add him because of Marsh’s attitude during the interview.
“Almost didn’t add Del,” Bentley writes, “because I was informed that he told Taylor Williams (an executive at PowerSouth) if I didn’t appoint him, he would f—k with me for the next two years.”
Bentley also said that during the interview Marsh “seemed angry” when he asked Bentley, “Governor, you tell me who would make a better senator. No one better than me.”
Bentley said he ultimately added Marsh because “I felt he was very qualified.”
In addition to those comments, Bentley also called Byard the best interviewer, liked that Rowe stood up for what she believed in and deemed Hooper a “showman.”