Luther Strange

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Luther Strange
Luther Strange official portrait.jpg
United States Senator
from Alabama
Assumed office
February 9, 2017
Serving with Richard Shelby
Appointed by Robert Bentley
Preceded by Jeff Sessions
47th Attorney General of Alabama
In office
January 17, 2011 – February 9, 2017
Governor Robert Bentley
Preceded by Troy King
Succeeded by Steve Marshall
Personal details
Born Luther Johnson Strange III
(1953-03-01) March 1, 1953 (age 64)
Birmingham, Alabama, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Melissa Strange
Children 2
Education Tulane University (BA, JD)
Website Government website

Luther Johnson "Big Luther" Strange III (born March 1, 1953) is an American attorney and politician, who is currently serving as the Junior Senator from the state of Alabama. He previously served as the 47th Attorney General of the U.S. state of Alabama from 2011 until 2017.[1] Strange was a candidate for public office in both 2006 and 2010.[2][3] In 2006, Strange ran for Lieutenant Governor of Alabama and defeated George Wallace, Jr. in the Republican primary. Strange then lost the general election to Democrat Jim Folsom, Jr. In 2010, Strange defeated incumbent Attorney General Troy King in the Republican primary, before going on to win the general election on November 2, 2010, against Democrat James Anderson.[4]

On December 6, 2016, Strange announced his candidacy for the seat held by Jeff Sessions, representing Alabama in the United States Senate, after then-President-Elect Donald Trump had announced on November 18, 2016, that he would be nominating Sessions to the office of Attorney General of the United States. Strange was appointed as Senator on February 9, 2017, by Alabama governor Robert J. Bentley to fill out the vacancy caused by Sessions' resignation.[5]

Early life and education[edit]

Luther Strange was born in Birmingham, Alabama, and lived in Sylacauga until the age of six, when his family moved to Homewood. He became an Eagle Scout.[1] Strange graduated from Shades Valley High School in 1970. He received his undergraduate degree from Tulane University, where he was a scholarship reserve basketball player nicknamed "The Big Bunny" (according to a former teammate posting to social media). He then graduated from Tulane University Law School. Strange was admitted to the Alabama State Bar in 1981.[6]

Early career[edit]

Strange's first job after graduating law school was at Sonat Offshore, a subsidiary of Sonat Inc., a natural gas utility based in Birmingham, Alabama; he joined the company in 1980 as a lawyer. In 1985, Strange became head of Sonat's Washington, D.C. office. He left the company in 1994. In the 1980s and 1990s, Strange was a registered lobbyist in Washington for Sonat and Transocean Offshore Drilling Co.[7]

Prior to being elected Attorney General, Strange was the founder of the law firm Strange LLC, a Birmingham, Alabama-based law firm. Before establishing his own law firm, Strange was a partner with Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP.[1]

Attorney General of Alabama[edit]

Luther Strange campaign sign, 2010

As Alabama Attorney General, Strange sued the federal government several times, over such issues as a U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Education directive on the treatment of transgender students[8] and changes in the U.S. Department of the Interior's calculation of Gulf of Mexico offshore drilling royalties.[9] Strange also joined a suit brought by some states against the federal government that challenged the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan.[10] Along with other Republican state attorneys general, Strange "came to the defense of ExxonMobil when it fell under investigation by attorneys general from states seeking information about whether the oil giant failed to disclose material information about climate change" (see ExxonMobil climate change controversy).[11]

Strange is an opponent of same-sex marriage. He expressed disagreement with the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges which found a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.[12][13]

His tenure in office included the conviction and removal from office of the Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard in June 2016. However, Strange recused himself from that case, appointing Van Davis as Acting Attorney General to oversee it.[14]

As attorney general, Strange was the coordinating counsel for the Gulf Coast states in litigation in the litigation on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.[10]

In April 2014, Strange argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in Lane v. Franks. The case involved a whistleblower who reported corruption within the Alabama community college system. This was Strange's first argument before the Court.[15][16]

In March 2014, Strange brought Alabama into a lawsuit filed by Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster against California's egg production standards as embodied in Prop 2. In October 2014, a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit, rejecting the states' challenge to Proposition 2, California's prohibition on the sale of eggs laid by caged hens kept in conditions more restrictive than those approved by California voters in a 2008 ballot initiative. Judge Kimberly Mueller ruled that Alabama and the other states lacked legal standing to sue on behalf of their residents and that the plaintiffs were representing solely the interests of egg farmers, not "a substantial statement of their populations."[17][18][19][20][21]

Strange served as chairman of the Republican Attorneys General Association in 2016 and 2017.

U.S. Senate[edit]

The appointment of Senator Jeff Sessions as U.S. Attorney General in November 2016 created a potential opening for a U.S. Senate seat that Governor Bentley would fill by appointment (upon Sessions’ confirmation). Many aspirants publicly declared their interest in the appointive Senate seat, and in running for it even if not selected by Bentley.[22]

Appointment[edit]

Strange revealed his intention to seek the Senate seat to Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard on November 22, regardless of whether he was appointed by Bentley, calling a run “the right thing for me to do.” [23] Strange filed paperwork for the potential special election one week later and made a public announcement of his candidacy on December 6. "The voters will make the ultimate decision about who will represent them, and I look forward to making my case to the people of Alabama in the months to come as to why they can trust me to keep protecting and fighting for our conservative values." [24] In January, the new Strange for Senate federal campaign committee reported raising more than $309,000 in the few weeks leading to the December 31st filing deadline.[25]

Bentley began interviewing candidates for the Senate appointment in mid-December.[26] On December 22, the Montgomery Advertiser reported a complete list of Alabamians who had been interviewed over a two-week period for the Senate seat (based on information released by the Governor’s office). They included: Chief Justice Roy Moore, U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville); Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh (R-Anniston), Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur), Sen. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster), Sen. Bill Hightower (R-Mobile), Sen. Trip Pittman (R-Montrose), House Ways and Means Education chairman Bill Poole (R-Tuscaloosa), Associate Justice Glenn Murdock, St. Rep. Connie Rowe (R-Jasper), ex-St. Rep. Perry Hooper of Montgomery (also Trump 2016 Chair in Alabama).[27]

Strange was not interviewed until the following week, along with U.S. Rep. Martha Roby, U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer, Tim James (son of former Governor Fob James), St. Sen. Greg Reed (R-Jasper), St. Sen. Phil Williams (R-Rainbow City).[28] Three additional persons interviewed before Jan. 6 were U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, Revenue Commissioner Julie P. Magee, and Department of Economic and Community Affairs Director Jim Byard. This brought the total number of interviews to 20 (which represented the limit the Governor would go).[29]

In January, Gov. Bentley announced the special election for the remainder of Sessions' term would not take place until 2018, giving the prospective new appointee a year of incumbency.[29] On February 2, Governor Bentley named six finalists for the appointment. The list included U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, Senate President pro tempore Del Marsh, Attorney General Strange; Bentley ACEA appointee Jim Byard, St. Rep. Connie Rowe, and ex-St. Rep. Perry Hooper Jr. [30]

Selection[edit]

Following the Sessions confirmation on February 7, Bentley announced Strange's appointment on February 9. "Let me tell you why I chose Luther Strange," Bentley said. "I truly believe Luther has the qualifications and has the qualities that will serve our people well and serve this state well." Speaking with his wife Melissa by his side, Strange called the appointment "the honor of my life," while citing his efforts with other Republican attorneys general to stop environmental, educational and labor regulations put forward by former President Barack Obama's administration. "Now we have the chance to go on the offense," he said. "Jeff Sessions as attorney general is the first step in that process." [31]

Reaction[edit]

Strange's appointment was welcomed by fellow Republicans, such as Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge,[32] and Karl Rove.[33] Conservative activists, such as Chris W. Cox of the NRA, also hailed the appointment.[34] NPR Southern political analyst Debbie Elliott said that Strange's conservative politics are "very much in the mold of Jeff Sessions." She noted that as state attorney general: "He's been very active in state-led fights against federal environmental regulations, against Obamacare, against transgender bathroom directives. He's fought for Alabama's strict abortion laws. He defended the state's controversial immigration law. A good bit of it was struck down by federal courts."[35]

There was negative reaction from other Republicans who expressed concern about Strange's appointment. In early November 2016, prior to Election Day, he had requested that impeachment proceedings against Bentley be delayed.[36] Some saw a link between this and Strange's appointment. “There’s going to be such an air of conspiracy hanging over our state and our new senator,” said state representative Ed Henry.[37] "It’s just one of those things where it appears there could have been collusion," said state representative Allen Farley.[38] "The whole thing stinks,” said State Auditor Jim Zeigler. "It is outrageous. We have the potential for Gov. Blagojevich situation."[39]

This interpretation was disputed by Mike Jones Jr., House Judiciary Committee Chairman, who said he believes the appointment was done in good faith. Jones noted that the hearings were stopped before the election and before the senate seat was available. "I made it clear in November when we were asked to pause that that did not mean this would not finish, that there would come a time when we would conclude this investigation and we would have a hearing. I still say that."[40] Jones and House Speaker Mac McCutcheon said Feb. 9 they would wait for word from the attorney general's office before resuming the committee's work. McCutcheon said he wanted the process to play out.[41]

Strange himself said Feb. 10, "We have never said and I want to make this clear. We have never said in our office that we are investigating the governor. I think it’s unfair to him and unfair to the process that it’s been reported out there.[42] We have six years of a record of the highest caliber of conduct of people in our Attorney General's office. That's why we don't comment on these things and why I don't plan to comment on that anymore."[41]

Electoral history[edit]

Alabama Lieutenant Governor Republican Primary Election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Luther Strange 208,558 48.13
Republican George Wallace, Jr. 144,619 33.37
Republican Mo Brooks 67,773 15.64
Republican Hilbun "HA" Adams 12,413 2.86
Alabama Lieutenant Governor Republican Primary Runoff Election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Luther Strange 108,904 54.81
Republican George Wallace, Jr. 89,788 45.19
Alabama Lieutenant Governor Election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jim Folsom, Jr. (incumbent) 629,268 50.61
Republican Luther Strange 610,982 49.14
Write-ins 3,029 0.24
Democratic hold
Alabama Attorney General Republican Primary Election, 2010
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Luther Strange 284,853 60.13
Republican Troy King (incumbent) 188,874 39.87
Alabama Attorney General Election, 2010
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Luther Strange 868,520 58.84
Democratic James Anderson 606,270 41.07
Write-ins 1,285 0.09
Republican hold
Alabama Attorney General Election, 2014
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Luther Strange (incumbent) 681,973 58.39
Democratic Joe Hubbard 483,771 41.42
Write-ins 2,157 0.18
Republican hold

Personal life[edit]

Strange is married to his wife Melissa[43] and resides in Homewood, Alabama.[44]

At 6 feet 9 inches (2.06 m) tall, Strange is the tallest U.S. Senator in history and is currently the tallest member of Congress.[45] He is Episcopalian.

Awards and honors[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "About Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange". Office of the Attorney General. Retrieved October 13, 2011. 
  2. ^ Dana Beyerle (May 12, 2009). "Bentley, Strange to announce their office plans". Gadsden Times. Retrieved May 14, 2016. 
  3. ^ "Strange leads fundraising efforts in Lt. Gov's race". Legacy.decaturdaily.com. April 26, 2006. Retrieved May 14, 2016. 
  4. ^ Washington, Dennis. "Luther Strange declared winner for Attorney General". myfoxal.com. Retrieved October 12, 2011. 
  5. ^ Vogel, Kenneth P.; Bresnahan, John; Caputo, Marc (February 8, 2017). "Governor expected to pick 'Big Luther' Strange to replace Sessions". Retrieved February 8, 2017. 
  6. ^ "MEMBER SEARCH". Alabama State Bar Directory. Retrieved October 13, 2011. 
  7. ^ George Talbot, Records show AG candidate Luther Strange once lobbied for Deepwater Horizon owner, AL.com (May 7, 2010).
  8. ^ Alabama sues Obama administration over transgender school bathroom order, Associated Press (May 25, 2016).
  9. ^ Mary Orndorff Troyan, Alabama, Louisiana sue the federal government over recalculated offshore drilling royalties, AL.com (September 6, 2012).
  10. ^ a b Kim Chandler, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange Named to Sessions’ Former Senate Seat, Associated Press (February 9, 2017).
  11. ^ Chris Mooney, Brady Dennis & Steven Mufson, Trump names Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma attorney general suing EPA on climate change, to head the EPA, Washington Post (December 8, 2016).
  12. ^ Casey Toner, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange opposes new federal order in same-sex marriage case, AL.com (March 9, 2015).
  13. ^ ALABAMA ATTORNEY GENERAL STRANGE’S STATEMENT IN RESPONSE TO U.S. SUPREME COURT DECISION ON SAME-SEX MARRIAGE (press release), Office of the Alabama Attorney General (June 26, 2015).
  14. ^ Mike Cason, [Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard convicted on 12 counts], AL.com (June 10, 2016).
  15. ^ Alex Pappas, Luther Strange makes first-ever Supreme Court appearance in Alabama whistleblower case, AL.com (April 28, 2014).
  16. ^ Robert Barnes, Fired public employee tells court his Constitutional rights were violated, Washington Post (April 28, 2014).
  17. ^ "Six States Challenge Constitutionality of California's 'Bad Egg Bill'". Protect The Harvest. March 5, 2014. Retrieved May 14, 2016. 
  18. ^ Bob Egelko (October 2, 2014). "Judge tosses suit by 6 states over California law on eggs - SFGate". M.sfgate.com. Retrieved May 14, 2016. 
  19. ^ Perry, Mark. "Lawsuit against California egg law dismissed - FDA report stokes debate over antibiotics - U.S. revokes special treatment for Canadian produce". Politico. Retrieved May 14, 2016. 
  20. ^ Miller, Jim (October 2, 2014). "Judge tosses lawsuit challenging California egg laws". Sacramento Bee. 
  21. ^ "AL Attorney General "Big Luther" Strange Loses Chicken Lawsuit Against California". Leftinalabama.com. May 10, 2016. Retrieved May 14, 2016. 
  22. ^ Birmingham News, 12/4/16; Birmingham News, 12/15/16
  23. ^ Barnes, Fred, Weekly Standard Online, 11/22/16
  24. ^ AP, 12/6/16
  25. ^ Associated Press, January 11, 2017, "Strange raises $309,000 for potential Senate race"
  26. ^ Birmingham Business Journal, 12/14/16; Birmingham News, 12/16/16
  27. ^ Montgomery Advertiser, 12/22/16
  28. ^ AP, 12/29/16
  29. ^ a b AP, 1/6/17
  30. ^ AP, 2/2/17
  31. ^ Lyman, Brian, Montgomery Advertiser, February 10, 2017, "Strange named to fill U.S. Senate seat; Governor's appointment follows Sessions' confirmation as AG"
  32. ^ News release, States News Service, 2/9/17
  33. ^ New York Times, 2/10/17
  34. ^ "Alabama AG Luther Strange Named To Fill Sessions' Senate Vacancy". Retrieved February 11, 2017. 
  35. ^ "Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange Chosen To Replace Jeff Sessions". Retrieved February 11, 2017. 
  36. ^ Cason, Mike (November 3, 2016). "Bentley impeachment process on hold for investigation by AG Strange". AL.com. Retrieved February 9, 2017. 
  37. ^ Nelson, Steven (February 9, 2017). "Luther Strange Senate Appointment Dismays Some Alabama Republicans". usnews.com. Retrieved February 9, 2017. 
  38. ^ Nelson, Steven (February 9, 2017). "Luther Strange Senate Appointment Dismays Some Alabama Republicans". usnews.com. Retrieved February 9, 2017. 
  39. ^ Andone, Dakin (February 9, 2017). "Sessions' Senate replacement raises eyebrows in Alabama". CNN.com. Retrieved February 9, 2017. 
  40. ^ tthompson@waaytv.com, Taylor Thompson. "Strange filling U.S. Senate seat opens up questions surrounding Bentley's impeachment hearings". Retrieved February 11, 2017. 
  41. ^ a b Montgomery Advertiser, February 10, 2017
  42. ^ "Questions Surround Gov. Bentley's Senate Appointment". February 9, 2017. Retrieved February 11, 2017. 
  43. ^ Mike Cason, Alice Martin named acting AG; no word on Strange replacement, AL.com (February 9, 2017) (see photo caption).
  44. ^ John Sharp, All eyes on 'Big' Luther Strange as Alabama looks to fill Jeff Sessions' Senate seat, AL.com (January 17, 2017).
  45. ^ Pathé, Simone (February 9, 2017). "Alan Simpson Is No Longer the Tallest Senator, and He's OK With That". Roll Call. Retrieved February 9, 2017. 
  46. ^ "Boy Scouts reception set to honor Luther Strange and new Eagle Scouts | Community Spirit | Greenville News". Greenville.wsfa.com. December 5, 2011. Retrieved January 29, 2012. 
  47. ^ "To Be Honored Tonight As Distinguished Eagle Scout". Luther Strange. December 8, 2011. Retrieved January 29, 2012. 

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Troy King
Attorney General of Alabama
2011–2017
Succeeded by
Alice Martin
Acting
United States Senate
Preceded by
Jeff Sessions
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Alabama
2017–present
Served alongside: Richard Shelby
Incumbent
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Catherine Cortez Masto
United States Senators by seniority
100th
Last