By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
The appointment to replace Senator Jeff Sessions rests squarely on the shoulders of Governor Robert Bentley.
In a recent email obtained by the Alabama Political Reporter, Bentley’s Appointments Director, Will Edwards, asks the members of the State’s Republican Party Executive Committee for input on the appointment of Sessions’ successor:
“Dear Alabama Republican Party Executive Committee Members, Governor Bentley has asked that I contact you regarding Senator Sessions’ vacant seat in the US Senate, pending his confirmation,” reads the Nov. 18 communique. Edwards continues by saying Bentley wants a “qualified pool of conservative candidates,” and would “value your personal input as a Party member.”
Party members are directed to Survey Monkey, where a questionnaire asks for the participant’s name, their County and a suggested candidate. The survey’s final question is, “Please suggest a question for Governor Bentley to consider asking candidates in the interview process.”
The unsecured survey doesn’t seem to have any filter so, any name, county, selection or what questions is freely accessible to anyone with the URL.
In Edward’s email, he states Bentley wants candidates who will, “uphold the Constitution, value the rights of the Second Amendment, the rights of the states, support pro-life issues, implement a strong national security policy, support domestic job creation and, most importantly, always put Alabama first.”
According to insiders, the list of possible replacements now includes, Attorney General Luther Strange, Congressman Richard Aderholt and State Supreme Court Justice Jim Main.
A new name added to the list is State Representative Bill Poole, a Tuscaloosa County Republican who serves as Chair of the powerful House Budget Ways and Means Committee.
Just last week, a Top 5 list had Congressman Bradley Byrne, State Senator Dick Brewbaker and others in contention. Byrne has since said he doesn’t want the position. Those close to the process say the selection process is at present fluid and likely to change over time.
Bentley’s confidants say he is being pressured from DC to appoint Strange. However, they say the Governor’s contentious relationship with Strange leaves Bentley loathe to name the man he sees as his nemesis.
If Bentley were to hand the seat to Strange, the question then is, who becomes his replacement?
Around Goat Hill, campfire speculation is more than just a way to pass the time, it is a serious lobbying effort by powerful interests.
Bentley is seeking the opinion of Sen. Sessions and Sen. Richard Shelby.
Insiders say, Survey Monkey queries and senatorial suggestions are only as influential as they appeal to the whim and will of Governor’s primary advisor, Rebekah Caldwell Mason.