It may appear to you and most casual observers of Alabama politics that our Alabama elected officials are old. That observation is accurate when you observe our current leaders in the highest offices.
Steve Flowers Column
David McCullough, who died last August, gave us books about the Panama Canal, the Wright Brothers, the Brooklyn Bridge and the American Revolution and won Pulitzers for “Truman” and “John Adams.” The latter was made into an HBO miniseries that earned 13 Emmy awards and three Golden Globes. In a “behind the scenes” feature on the miniseries DVD McCullough showed his backyard writing cottage and the manual typewriter he continued to use.
The legislature had their every four year organizational session in January. It is exactly what the title states. They are organizing for the next quadrennium of lawmaking. They officially chose their leadership and adopted the rules for the two chambers.
The inauguration of our Alabama constitutional officials was Jan. 16. Our state constitution calls for the inauguration to be held on the third Monday in January. As you would expect and as almanac’s suggest, it is usually a cold day. Over the years I have had countless folks harken back to their high school band experiences of marching in the inaugural parade, especially ladies who had been majorettes. They had to march and twirl a baton in 20 degree weather with skimpy, legless, bathing suit style attire.
For many years, Alabama has been ridiculed in national publications for having fewer women in political leadership positions than other assumed to be progressive states. States like Colorado, New York and California were lauded for having an inordinate number of females in public office. Well, folks, take a cursory look around at Alabama’s political landscape, and it is a new day in the Heart of Dixie, and unlike the above mentioned liberal states our slate of women leaders are conservative Republicans.
Richard Shelby walked out of the U.S. Senate this week after 36 years. Walking out with him is almost all of Alabama’s seniority and power in Washington.
Seniority equates into power in the Halls of Congress, especially in the Senate. National publications have illustrated the fact that Alabama has benefited more than all 50 states from federal earmarked funds due to one man: Shelby.
Our iconic Senior United States Senator, Richard Shelby, will walk out of the Senate chambers in Washington, D.C. this week and come home to retirement in Tuscaloosa. History will reveal Shelby as Alabama’s greatest U.S. Senator, especially when it comes to bringing home the bacon to the Heart of Dixie. To say Shelby is the greatest is saying a mouthful, because we have had some great ones. Shelby will rest along with the likes of John Bankhead, John Sparkman, Lister Hill and Howell Heflin. He has served longer in the Senate than any Alabamian in state history – 36 years.
As we begin to celebrate the Christmas season and close out 2022, allow me to share the story of two great Jefferson County/Alabama political legends.
Alabama Supreme Court Justice Mike Bolin is retiring at the end of the year from the state’s highest judicial tribunal. Bolin is a young 72 and would not have retired and would have sought and been elected to another six-year term if it were not for an antiquated state law that disallows someone running for a judgeship in the state after age 70. Bolin is one of the most popular and well respected judges in Alabama.
Allow me to share the stories of three of my favorite legislative colleagues. Two of these gentlemen are retiring from the Alabama House of Representatives this year, and one passed away in April.
Representative Victor Gaston of Mobile and Representative Howard Sanderford of Huntsville are going home. A third legend and true gentleman, Steve McMillan of Baldwin County, passed away during the last session in April.
Students of Alabama political history will rightly remember the 2022 midterm election. This election saw the majority of Alabama voters cast their ballots for Katie Britt, who will be the first woman elected to represent Alabama in the U.S. Senate. Governor Kay Ivey easily coasted to victory to gain her second full term in office, continuing her reign as the first Republican woman to serve as governor. Republicans from the top of the ballot on down cemented their control of the state government by huge margins.