- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 18, 2017

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - The announcement that the special election for U.S. Senate will be held this year brought a flurry of political activity with hopefuls announcing or considering campaigns.

In one of her first major acts, Gov. Kay Ivey undid former Gov. Robert Bentley’s plans to wait until 2018 to hold the election to fill the seat for the remainder of Jeff Sessions’ term.

The new schedule sets an Aug. 15 primary and, if needed, a Sept. 26 runoff. The general election will be held Dec. 12.

The quick election is expected to bring a broad field of potential candidates of both Democrats and Republicans. However, Senate hopefuls will have little time to put together campaigns, a timeframe that could give an advantage to candidates with the deepest pockets and name identification.

Here’s a look at some of the contenders that have announced or considering campaigns.

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U.S. SEN. LUTHER STRANGE

Strange, who was appointed by Bentley to fill the seat on an interim basis, has already announced his intentions to run regardless of the election date. “As the only announced candidate for this office, I will spend the next several months being the best Senator I can be, upholding Alabama values and working with President Donald Trump to drain the swamp and help make America great again,” Strange said.

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SENATE PRESIDENT PRO TEM DEL MARSH

The Republican state Senate leader says he will make a decision this week on whether he will run for the job.

“The first question you have to ask yourself is, ‘Am I the right person for the job for the state of Alabama?’ I think I’ve got the right skill set,” Marsh said. Marsh, a wealthy businessman, would bring the ability to self-fund a campaign that has to be thrown together quickly. Marsh has also considered a run for governor in 2018.

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STATE REP. ED HENRY

The Republican legislator from Hartselle announced his candidacy Tuesday. Henry came into the state limelight by spearheading the push to impeach Bentley. The conservative Republican had previously clashed with Bentley over Bentley’s effort to raise taxes.

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PERRY HOOPER JR.

The former Republican legislator and Trump campaign chairman in Alabama sought the appointment from Bentley. Hooper said he is considering a run.

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STATE SEN. TRIP PITTMAN

The Republican senator from Montrose said he is weighing a run. Pittman said he will announce a decision within a few weeks.

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JIM BYARD

The former Prattville mayor had interviewed with Bentley for the Senate appointment that went to Strange. Byard currently heads the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs.

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