— -- Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange has been appointed to temporarily fill the vacant Senate seat left by Jeff Sessions, who was confirmed Wednesday as U.S. attorney general.
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley made the announcement this morning in a statement.
"Alabama has surely been well represented by Sen. Sessions, and I am confident Sen. Strange will serve as a fine representative for our people," Bentley said. "His leadership on a national level, service as a statewide elected official and long record of taking on tough federal issues are the very qualities that will make him a strong conservative senator for Alabama.”
Strange, who was elected Alabama attorney general in 2011, said he is "greatly honored and humbled" to accept the appointment.
"Sen. Sessions' commitment to public service is nearly unparalleled in Alabama history, and his departure from the Senate leaves tremendous shoes to fill," Strange, 63, said in a statement. "I pledge to the people of Alabama to continue the same level of leadership as Jeff Sessions in consistently fighting to protect and advance the conservative values we all care about."
A special election will be held in 2018 to fill the seat through the end of Sessions' term in 2020.
Strange, nicknamed Big Luther — he is 6 foot 9 — had already announced he would run in the 2018 special election.
As Alabama's attorney general, he was a central figure in a scandal last year that engulfed Bentley, who was accused of having an affair with a former political adviser and of using campaign funds to cover the trail.
Alabama lawmakers on both sides of the aisle filed a resolution in April 2016 to impeach Bentley on charges of corruption. He denied he had an affair and refused to step down, saying in a statement there were "no grounds for impeachment."
In June 2016 the state's House Judiciary Committee began its impeachment investigation, and in November 2016 committee announced it was suspending its impeachment investigation at Strange's request.
In a letter to the House Judiciary Committee chairman, Strange wrote that the committee should cease its investigation "until I am able to report to you that the necessary related work of my office has been completed," without elaborating what that works entailed.
The Associated Press contributed to this report