How the election of Donald Trump shifted Alabama into the political spotlight

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WIAT) — The election of Donald Trump is creating a shift in Alabama politics. I talked with political analyst Steve Flowers about what that shift means.

The Trump rally in Mobile, accompanied by the endorsement of five-term Alabama senator Jeff Sessions are two of the reasons why Alabama political analyst Steve Flowers told me Alabama Republicans earned this moment in the inaugural spotlight.

“There’s an old saying in politics Sherri: those who bake the pie get to eat it. Alabama helped bake the pie if you will,” Flowers explained. “Trump carried Alabama overwhelmingly in the primary which helped pivot him for the presidency so there will be a lot of Alabamians there.”

One of the things that helped propel Trump into the Republican nomination and put him on the map, so to speak, was the Mobile rally that had around 30,000 people attend.

“Absolutely we propelled him into the leadership in the republican nomination and of course voted for him in November in the general election,” Flowers said. “But you know he’s rewarded Alabama by making our own senator Jeff Sessions his attorney general, so there will be a lot of people who will be there for Jeff Sessions and for Trump.”

So the question is, how does this change the political landscape for our state, especially with Sessions’ senate seat open?

“We don’t have a senate seat come open that often. We’ve had Shelby in one seat for 30 years, and now Sessions for 20 years. So this is a coveted seat and it will be well sought after,” Flowers reflected.

Flowers said we should expect to see players positioning themselves for for that open seat as well as for the governorship.

But Alabama isn’t the only landscape changing. There will be someone named to replace Antonin Scalia. Trump has said that he will do that right away and threw out some names, but Bill Pryor is one name that has come up a couple times.

“You’re right, we may not only get an attorney general–we may get a United States Supreme Court Justice,” Flowers said. “I really do believe Bill Pryor is on the short list for U.S. Supreme Court. He’s young, he’s 54 years old, he was a former AG. He and Sessions are almost like clones. They both are real conservative, philosophically and squeaky clean like boy scouts–they are sort of real, real, real conservative–both of them. Pryor could be the Trump appointment for Supreme Court.”

I stopped by Senator Richard Shelby’s office in the nation’s capital today where he’s been meeting people in town from Alabama, including the lieutenant governor Kay Ivey.

Shelby and I discussed what kinds of efforts and plans are in place to ensure the safety of everyone in Washington D.C. for the inauguration festivities, as well as the exciting changes coming to the Alabama political landscape.

This is Senator Shelby’s sixth term in the senate. And his colleague Jeff Sessions who is just down the hall has served 20. If he’s confirmed as U.S. attorney general it’s a rare opening for those representing Alabama at the highest level of government.

I asked Shelby about that vacancy that for now will be filled by Governor Bentley.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen. I talked to the governor, senator Sessions talked to the governor about possible appointments he’s considering–the governor told me he is considering a lot of people. I’ve known Luther Strange a long time–will he fit in?  He’ll fit in, he would do a good job, but others will too. I told the governor to make his best appointment. That’s an important job but it’s an important job that doesn’t come open often as you mentioned.”

In the meantime the senator is focused on the big day tomorrow.

He says right after Donald Trump is sworn in they’ll get busy voting on those senate confirmations.

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