Luther Strange is running for the Office of Attorney General of Alabama and he is not just a contender but also a man on a mission.

In his speech announcing his candidacy Strange stated, “My first priority, once elected, will be to restore excellence, integrity and the highest ethical standard to the office.”

This is a no-nonsense statement laid directly at the door of the current Attorney General Troy King.

Mr. Strange, also a republican, has determined to challenge the incumbent republican Mr. King for the job of the state’s top cop because it would seem he thinks it is necessary.

Mr. Strange goes on to say, “… ethical lapses, impropriety and incompetence have plagued the office throughout the last five years.”

Many in the state would agree with Mr. Strange, going so far as to question if the attorney general’s office has become a brew of political cronyism and moral ambiguities.

Mr. Strange stopped by the News-Aegis for a little over an hour and gave us a chance to ask him a few questions.

The first thing one notices about Mr. Strange is that he is tall, very tall. The second is his easy and friendly manner. He seems like a man who is very comfortable in his own skin and nothing like the tennis-playing elitist that he was portrayed as in the Lt. governor’s race.

“One of the most important things I see is that the attorney general and the county district attorney should be working hand-in-glove,” said Strange. “The DA is the person on the scene with the responsibility to prosecute criminals and uphold the law.” Strange says that the relationship with the local DA’s office has been weakened and that there is a lack of support for the men and women on the front line of law enforcement. “Jeff Sessions and Bill Pryor set an example of how AGs and DAs should work together in cooperation,” said Strange.

One of the criticisms of the current AG has been his personnel and hiring procedures.

Strange said if elected he would look for staff that represented excellence. “The AG should look to have people with academic excellence and the highest moral integrity, excellence in achievement and commitment,” said Strange.

He said that a perfect example of personnel in the AG’s office would be Richard Allen, who is a retired general, a decorated Vietnam veteran, and top of his class in law school. “This is type of person who should be serving in the attorney general’s office,” said Strange. He also added that Allen was a personal friend and one of the most respected lawyers in the Alabama.

Strange solemnly states that he would marshal the full power of AG’s office to support the Governor’s fight to end illegal gambling operations in the state. He says that thanks to the tireless hard work of people like St. Clair County District Attorney Richard Minor the case concerning bingo as gambling is before the Alabama State Supreme Court.

He says that illegal gambling operations present a danger for a rise in crime as well and other public safety issues.

He also thinks the AG’s office needs to work with the local DAs and law enforcement. “The attorney general needs to be able to work with people like Richard Minor, so that there is a cohesive strategy, [to the bingo problem] and you have to get the governors involved with it,” said Strange. “And if you disagree, work out your decisions before you run off and create a bigger situation.”

Strange has repeatedly been quoted as saying, “Alabama’s newspapers have widely reported that the current Attorney General issued an official opinion stating that the Houston County sheriff must grant a permit to a gambling development, only three months after attending a party at the gambling developer’s home. This conflict of interest is unacceptable. Alabamians deserve an Attorney General whose only allegiance is to the law.” These and other anomalies within the current attorney general’s office are all a part of why Strange is running for the office.

When asked about crime and prison overcrowding, Strange made it clear that he would be tough on crime but also see great benefit in prevention and programs that keep kids from getting into trouble in the first place. “Once a child gets in the system, it’s tough to get them out of it,” said Strange. “You just can’t be soft on crime but it’s clear that we have children in tough situation, so the extent that we can provide structure and a way out for these kids is just so important.”

Strange says that there are some good programs designed to get at-risk kids diverted at the right time. “The police are interested in helping with these programs, and making it a priority. It is about trying to get funding from the governor for after-school programs and inner-city activities to keep kids off the street.”

While stating that he will, “…work with district attorneys and law enforcement officials to prosecute law-breakers, fight illegal immigration, and keep the scourge of drugs off of our streets and out of our neighborhoods and schools.”

He is also interested in finding solutions for at-risk youth before they become tempted with crime.

Mr. Strange appears to be a very smart and successful man who wants to make a difference.

He says, “I think Bob Riley has done a great job…Bob’s a very good guy. I’ve known him for a long time, he’s honest, and he’s got great people around him. You don’t have to worry about him doing anything you wouldn’t be proud of. So, we’ve got to build on that tradition.”

Strange promises to bring integrity back to the Attorney General’s office saying, “The job of the Attorney General is to honorably lead the most important law firm in the state. I will provide that leadership.”

Joel Paris/Keight Kerr contributed to this article

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