By Steve Flowers
Incumbency Prevails in 2022 State House Races
Folks, believe it or not, we are closing in on six months before next year’s election year. The primary election is set for May 24, 2022.
In Alabama, all our major constitutional officers are on the ballot next year. The governor’s office is the premier race in the state, and that coveted and powerful post is set for its four-year quadrennial run. Therefore, this big political year is referred to as the gubernatorial year. Those of us who follow Alabama politics have been salivating with anticipation for a cavalcade of great races. However, the power of incumbency has devasted the big year into a yawn. All the major state offices are held by popular incumbents, who are either running unopposed or have minimal opposition.
The consolation prize was that there would be the legislative races. After all, this is where the real power in the state rests. You can simply look at where the special interest and PAC money is spent to verify that fact. However, the omnipotent power of incumbency has also encroached on those races.
The Alabama House of Representatives has 105 members. There are 77 Republicans and 28 Democrats. The large majority of incumbents are running for reelection — both Republicans and Democrats. The overwhelming majority of these incumbents will have no opposition.
However, in the House, there will be some major changes in leadership because of retirement or moving on to new posts. Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon is not running for reelection. This has created an interesting and spirited race within the Republican Caucus ranks for speaker. In addition, Victor Gaston of Mobile, who is Speaker Pro Tem, is also retiring.
Bill Poole of Tuscaloosa, who chaired the powerful House Ways and Means Education Budget Committee, has left the House to be the state finance director.
House Rules Committee Chairman Mike Jones of Andalusia is running for the open senate seat of retiring Senator Jimmy Holley.
Two of the freshman House members are running for statewide office. Wes Allen of Troy is running for secretary of state and Andrew Sorrell of Tuscumbia is running for state auditor. In addition, Connie Rowe of Jasper is leaving the House to become an administrative assistant to Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth.
Some of the veteran House members who are choosing to hang up their legislative cleats include Howard Sanderford of Huntsville, Mike Ball of Huntsville, K.L. Brown of Jacksonville, Kerry Rich of Marshall, Allen Farley of Jefferson, Harry Shiver of Baldwin, Mike Holmes of Elmore and Becky Nordgren of Etowah. The most noteworthy retiree may be Representative Steve McMillan of Baldwin County, who is retiring after serving close to 43 years in the House. McMillan has been a quiet yet very effective voice for the people of Baldwin County. They all will be missed.
Some of the high profile and powerful members of the House, who will return for another four years with no or token opposition, are Steve Clouse of Ozark, Nathaniel Ledbetter of Dekalb County and Danny Garrett, Jim Carns, David Wheeler and David Faulkner of Jefferson. Garrett has ascended to chairman of the House Ways and Means Education.
Other leaders returning are Chris Pringle, Reed Ingram, Randall Shedd, Tracy Estes, Chris Sells, David Standridge, Ginny Shaver, Jim Hill, Alan Baker, Joe Lovvorn, Chris Blackshear, Kyle South, Paul Lee, Jeff Sorrells, Rhett Marques, Steve Hurst, Joe Faust and Margie Wilcox.
The Democratic leadership will remain intact. There is an illustrious array of House Democratic leaders, including Anthony Daniels, Chris England, Laura Hall, Peb Warren, Barbara Boyd, A.J. McCampbell, Berry Forte, Dexter Grimsley, Thomas Jackson, Kevin Lawrence, Mary Moore, Juandalynn Givan, and veteran John Rogers.
Two of the Democratic House veterans from Jefferson County, Louise Alexander and Merika Coleman, are both running for an open Jefferson County Senate Seat, leaving both their House seats up for grabs.
There may be an increase in the number of females in the House of Representatives. It has already begun with the election of Cynthia Almond of Tuscaloosa, who was elected without opposition to replace Bill Poole. In addition, Patrice Penni McClammy won the Montgomery District 76 seat of her late father Thad McClammy. She won with no opposition.
See you next week.
Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama papers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.