Will Jeff Sessions be confirmed as Attorney General? Sad to say—and despite a noble effort from Corey Booker to block it—but yes, he probably will be. And that means that there is an open senate seat in Alabama for the first time in almost thirty years. Gee, who can believe Alabamians have won the Turd Lottery not just one but twice in having Sessions and Richard Shelby represent us for so long? Pinch us, we’re dreaming…no seriously, pinch Alabama voters because they need to wake up.
Still, the question of who will replace Sessions is easy if you work backwards from the related question of “Who does Alabama Governor Robert Bentley most want to get rid of?” It’s pitiful that Bentley’s motivations in filling Sessions senate-seat are a lot less “Who would make the best replacement?” and a lot more “What’s the best way I can avoid jail time?”
Since Bentley is still under the cloud of a possible investigation and indictment for misappropriating state funds to give his mistress a cushy mid-six-figures job, he has to worry about giving the senate seat to the wrong person and leaving behind folks most likely to indict him. With that in mind, here’s a look at some names most often mentioned…
Luther Strange…Alabama’s current attorney general and the person in charge with putting Bentley in jail. Bentley would most like to get rid of him, and put in his own, hand-picked special prosecutor, but would such an obviously self-serving, political move hurt Bentley’s image? Since Dirty Rob is leaving office in 2018 (and unlikely to ever run for anything again) he doesn’t care, and the only reason he wouldn’t pick Strange is if “Big Luther” has asked him not to since he’d rather run for Governor next year. Odds: Really all depends on whether or not Luther wants to run for Governor next year. 3-to-1
Roy Moore…One of the most noxious and divisive names in Alabama politics ever (and we’re dealing with a state that’s last Speaker of the House was under three-dozen counts of indictment and who’s Governor would easily be impeached if Alabama were a more competitive state for Democrats). The only reason Bentley would appoint him is if he’s scared of Roy Moore running for Governor next year—which he almost certainly will—but this time the notorious “Ten Commandments Judge” actually wins. Moore has run for Governor twice before and lost, but since he was recently removed from the Alabama Supreme Court for refusing to allow gay marriage licenses, he’ll be more politically popular with the crazies than ever before. Bentley may be honestly terrified of this nut taking office, and a senate seat is a good way to get rid of him, but that would mean Bentley has to give a shit about the future of the state, which is why the odds are only…Odds: 5-to-1
Rep. Bradley Byrne…Byrne is a real asshole’s-asshole, and apparently his butt’s still sore from losing the Governor’s race to Bentley back in 2010 (Bentley beat him in the run-off primary, effectively winning right there in a state that is uncompetitive in the general). It’s widely believed he’ll run for Governor again in 2018, and literally the only reason Bentley would pick him is because he doesn’t want to be succeeded by a guy with an axe to grind. Although Byrne has said he doesn’t want the seat (presumably because he could be congressman forever if he stays put or risk it for a governor’s run if he wants to risk it), if Bentley asked, he’d probably take it. Odds: 8-to-1
Rep. Robert Aderholt…A congressman from my very own home district, Aderholt is one of those quiet menaces that has been in congress forever but few people even inside his own district could pick him out of a line-up. Aderholt has not even had any opposition the last three election cycles. That’s right, a Democratic society has allowed an incumbent congressman to run completely unopposed in either the primary or general election for multiple cycles including a supposedly more competitive Presidential election year. [No local Republicans will risk running against him in the primary, and Democrats can’t find anyone who wants to waste their time running against him in a general.] Yet what has this man ever done for his district? Nada. That’s why, of course, he’s the name most often mentioned out of Alabama’s Republican congressmen to fill Sessions seat. The only drawback against him is that there’s no real political upside to Bentley picking him, and he’d be harder for Luther Strange to beat (than a nobody) in the upcoming “special election” to fill the seat long-term after a fill-in appointment…Odds: 4-1 which is why I really think it’ll be…
Somebody you’ve never heard of…Now that might sound funny to non-Alabama residents who’ve never heard of most of these people–Who am I kidding? Most Alabama residents have never heard of these people either. But they are at least somewhat well known figures if you follow AL politics. And I think Bentley is most likely to pick some random seat-filler for right now, and then let that poor bastard be cannon-fodder when he calls a special election to fill Sessions seat more long-term. That way he can let the chips fall where they may, and watch Moore, Byrne, Aderholt, Strange, Mo Brooks, and a whole Whitman’s sampler of assholes compete against each other and presumably forget all about going after him. [Look at that shortlist and tell me it doesn’t look like a casting call for the villain of a Civil Rights movie?] After letting this rogue’s gallery of the criminally insane knock each other around for a while, he’ll come off looking relatively decent. And Bentley has become very good at pretending to be a good man surrounded by black-hats. Odds: 2-to-1