Alabama governor reschedules special Senate election for 2017
© Greg Nash

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) on Tuesday set a new timeline for a special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by now-Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) SessionsFBI opens tip line requesting information on Charlottesville rally Sessions rails against Chicago during visit to Miami DOJ warrant of Trump resistance site triggers alarm MORE, shaving nearly a year from the previous plan.

The new timeline sets the primary date for August 15. A runoff election is scheduled for Sept. 26, and the general election will take place on Dec. 12. The schedule marks a drastic change from the earlier timeline, which placed the general election on Nov. 6, 2018 — the same day as other midterm elections nationwide.

“I promised to steady our ship of state. This means following the law, which clearly states the people should vote for a replacement US 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.”

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“This is not a hastily-made decision," Ivey added. "I consulted legal counsel, the finance director, Speaker 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."

The Senate seat is currently filled by former Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, who was appointed shortly after Sessions' confirmation as U.S. attorney general.

Strange is planning to run in the state’s special election, and currently has the backing of the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellTrump’s isolation grows Ellison: Trump has 'level of sympathy' for neo-Nazis, white supremacists Trump touts endorsement of second-place finisher in Alabama primary MORE (R-Kent.).

“Sen. Strange is a fighter who is helping President Trump and Attorney General Sessions accomplish the reforms that Americans voted for last November, and we are fully committed to supporting him in the upcoming special election," the group’s President and CEO Steven Law said in a statement on Tuesday.

Ivey took office last week after former Gov. Robert Bentley (R) resigned amid a sex scandal and subsequent criminal investigations. Bentley pleaded guilty last week to two misdemeanor charges of converting campaign funds to personal use and failing to file a major campaign contribution report.

Sessions, a Republican who previously served as a senator from Alabama, was confirmed as U.S. attorney general in February.