Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed a proclamation Tuesday morning to reschedule the special election date for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
The new primary date is Aug. 15, with a runoff set for Sept. 26; the general election is Dec. 12, a year ahead of the previously scheduled election date.
In February, Gov. Robert Bentley temporarily appointed then-Attorney General Luther Strange to the Senate seat until Alabama could hold a special election. Bentley originally scheduled the special election to coincide with the 2018 regular election cycle, a primary in June and general election in November.
“I promised to steady our ship of state. This means following the law, which clearly states the people should vote for a replacement U.S. Senator as soon as possible,” Ivey said in a statement. “The new US Senate special election dates this year are a victory for the rule of law.”
Ivey signed the proclamation at 9:21 a.m.
“This is not a hastily-made decision,” Ivey added. “I consulted legal counsel, the finance director, Speaker [Mac] McCutcheon, Senate President Del Marsh, and both budget chairmen since the cost to the General Fund could be great. However, following the law trumps the expense of a special election.”
Alabama statute says that if a Senate seat vacancy occurs more than four months before a general election, the governor is required to call a special election “forthwith.” Bentley interpreted “forthwith” to mean an announcement, not the actual election.
Senator Strange is taking the change of date in stride.
“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,” said Strange. “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. The people of Alabama deserve nothing less and ultimately it will be up to them to decide who will represent them in Washington.”