Republican Jim Zeigler and Evergreen- Democrat Tommy Chapman have filed a lawsuit seeking a declaratory judgment that Gov. Robert Bentley illegally set the upcoming special election for the US Senate seat vacated by US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and are asking for a mandatory injunction requiring him to reset the election as soon as possible.
Zeigler, Alabama State Auditor, and Chapman, chair of the Conecuh County Democratic Executive Committee and retired district attorney for Conecuh and Monroe Counties, electronically filed the bipartisan lawsuit in Montgomery County Circuit on Sunday.
The suit cites state law that requires a special election date to be set without delay if a U.S. Senate seat becomes vacant more than four months prior to the next election, which would be in November 2018.
“The whole thing stinks,” said Zeigler. “We’ve got a Bentley-appointed Senator instead of a peoples’ elected Senator. Under the illegal delay by Gov. Bentley, his anointed US Senator gets a free ride for almost two years before an elected Senator can take office.”
The suit also cites a Feb. 13 memo by the nonpartisan Legislative Reference Service that the governor is required to set the special election “without delay.”
“It is a practical and reasonable interpretation of the statute to conclude that the Legislature intended for the Governor to call a special election immediately or without delay if the vacancy occurred more than four months from the next General Election,” reads the memo. “It appears that Section 36-9-8, Code of Alabama 1975, requires Governor Bentley to hold a special election to fill the vacancy of Senator Jeff Sessions without delay at some time prior to the 2018 General Election.”
Read the full lawsuit below: