After the Senate confirmed former senator Jeff Sessions as the newest U.S. Attorney General late Wednesday night, Alabama governor Robert Bentley announced his replacement: state attorney general Luther Strange.
“Big Luther,” as the six-foot-nine-inch former college basketball player is known, emerged from a crowded field of potential Sessions replacements because “his leadership on a national level, service as a statewide elected official and long record of taking on tough federal issues,” Bentley said in a statement Thursday.
Another reason Bentley may have chosen Strange is that the governor now gets to name his replacement. That could help Bentley out of a bind given the impeachment investigation launched by the state legislature last year after his affair with an aide was revealed. In November, Strange asked the legislature to hold off as he launched his own investigation of the affair. But now that he’s on his way to D.C., Bentley gets to handpick his own investigator, a prospect that has some Alabamians nervous.
Even with his appointment, Strange will have to run in a special election in 2018, which is why his statewide victories in 2010 and 2014 were seen as such an asset. And if he wins next year, Strange will then face another election in 2020 for the full six-year term.