By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter
There will be a Special Election for Alabama’s vacant US Senate seat, after all.
After months of haggling and lawsuits, Governor Kay Ivey on Tuesday signed a proclamation announcing the election for the seat left vacant by Jeff Sessions’ appointment to US Attorney General earlier this year.
“This special election will remove any cloud of doubt that might have been associated with the previous process,” Ivey said at a press conference Tuesday afternoon. “This is the people’s decision.”
The new schedule sets the primary for Aug. 15, a runoff for September 26, and the general election for Dec. 12.
“I promised to steady our ship of state,” Ivey said of her decision. “This means following the law, which clearly states the people should vote for a replacement US Senator as soon as possible. The new US Senate special election dates this year are a victory for the rule of law.”
Former Gov. Robert Bentley balked at setting a special election, citing costs, and appointed former Alabama AG Luther Strange to the seat. Strange, who is the only announced candidate for the seat, would have held it until the regularly scheduled midterm elections in November 2018.
In a statement, Strange said he was ready to run for the office and has no problem with an election sooner rather than later.
“As I’ve said for months, I’m a candidate and I’m ready to run whether the election is next month or next year,” Strange 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.”
Prospective candidates must file with their political parties by May 17, 2017, at 5 p.m. Independents and minor party candidates can file their paperwork to run until Aug. 15, 2017, according to Ivey’s proclamation.
Ivey appeared apprehensive about moving the election at her first press conference as Governor last week, but she said she had not made a final decision. She promised to weigh both sides, including how much money changing the election date would cost taxpayers.
“There’s a limited time available to make a reasonable decision on that,” the new governor said last week. “If we move the date, it will cost about $15 million that will come straight out of the General Fund budget. So, while I have some concerns about the whole situation, I have to also be very mindful of the impact it will have.”
Legal concerns appeared to have outweighed concerns of cost.
The Secretary of State, John Merrill, said Tuesday that he was hopeful that the election could be held at a cost of less than $10 million. His other, more conservative estimates put the cost between $14-15 million.
Chip Brownlee contributed to this report.