HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Donald Trump is poised to become the 45th President of the United States and that could mean big changes for U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks.
The 5th District congressman, who serves the Huntsville area, is among a handful of candidates who’ve been interviewed by Gov. Robert Bentley, twice, as possible successors to U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions.
Sessions was nominated by Trump to serve as attorney general. Sessions went through the confirmation process last week and a confirmation vote could be upcoming, Brooks told WHNT News 19 Monday.
“It could be as early as Jan. 20, more likely around Feb. 3,” Brooks said.
Brooks said it depends on whether Senate “Democrats go into panic and guerrilla tactic mode,” to drag out the confirmation vote.
The congressman said through procedural delaying tactics, a cabinet nominee could be subject to up to a 30-hour delay.
Brooks said Sessions has the votes to be confirmed.
If that happens, Bentley has to make a selection on Sessions’ successor.
“My understanding is that the governor will make an announcement of who is going to succeed Jeff Sessions within a day or two, of when Jeff Sessions is confirmed as the next attorney general of the United States of America,” Brooks said.
Bentley has interviewed a number of candidates, including U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, suspended Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore and Alabama state senators Del Marsh and Arthur Orr, among others.
Sessions’ most recent election was in 2014. Bentley has said he won’t call a special election for the seat outside of the general election calendar. That means the seat would be up for election in 2018, and then again, for a full, six-year term in 2020.
Brooks said Bentley described to him the kind of senator he’s looking for as a replacement.
“The Governor told me that he is looking for someone who best fits the mold of a Jeff Sessions,” Brooks said. “In that vein, Jeff Sessions told the governor that there are two congressman who best fit that mold, myself and Congressman Gary Palmer out of Birmingham. Knowing Jeff Sessions I know he said a lot of kind things about the other candidates too.”
Brooks said Bentley is playing his cards close to the vest, regarding Sessions’ expected replacement.
“I’ve personally recommended to the governor that he appoint one of our five congressmen, because they have experience, they understand the federal public policy issues more so than anybody else in the state of Alabama, because we deal with them daily, and that person can hit the ground running,” Brooks said.
Brooks said if Bentley does appoint a sitting member of Congress, the special election to replace that U.S. House member would happen quickly. He pointed to the quickly-held special election in 2013 to replace U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner of Mobile.
“Jo Bonner retired in August, a couple of years ago,” Brooks said. “You had a primary, a primary runoff and a general election before the year was out. In about 4 months.”
Brooks said if Bentley follows his own precedent in calling special elections, the next congress member could be in office by summer.
“That means that you’re likely to have a primary in April, with a runoff in May and a general election in June,” he said. “That’s how quick it would be upon us, if the governor does choose to appoint a congressman to fill Jeff Sessions Senate seat.”