Appointment could trigger a special election for Session’s Senate seat
♦By Rich Shumate, Chicken Fried Politics.com editor
WASHINGTON (CFP) — President-elect Donald Trump has picked U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama as his choice for attorney general.
If Sessions is confirmed by the Senate, where he has served for the past 20 years, his vacant seat will be filled temporarily by Alabama Governor Robert Bentley. State law then requires that a special election be called for voters to select a permanent replacement for the remainder of Session’s term, which ends in 2020.
As Bentley and Sessions are both Republicans, the seat will remain in GOP hands.
In a November 18 statement announcing the pick, Trump called Sessions “a world-class legal mind” who is “greatly admired by legal scholars and virtually everyone who knows him.”
Sessions, who was a federal prosecutor in Alabama from 1975 to 1983, said he was looking forward to returning to the Justice Department.
“I love the department, its people and its mission. I can think of no greater honor than to lead them,” he said in a statement. “With the support of my Senate colleagues, I will give all my strength to advance the department’s highest ideals.
Sessions, 69, who was first elected to the Senate in 1996, was the first senator to endorse Trump and has become a close adviser. He shares with Trump a hard-line stance on immigration, opposing a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
In 1986, President Ronald Reagan nominated Session to serve as a federal judge in Alabama. But his nomination was killed in the Senate Judiciary Committee after several lawyers who worked with Sessions claimed he had made racist statements, which Sessions denied.
That controversy is likely to be resurrected during Session’s confirmation because the Justice Department is the key enforcement agency for civil rights.
Sessions was elected Alabama’s attorney general in 1994 and went to the Senate two years later, becoming only the second Republican elected from the Yellowhammer State since Reconstruction.