The Alabama Legislature will remain super-majority Republican for the next quadrennium. As the dust settles from the May/June party primaries, there have been negligible, if any, party changes. There has been some shuffling on the deck of the GOP boat, but it has all been intraparty struggles.
By and large, both the House of Representatives and the Alabama Senate have remained safe havens for incumbents.
The Senate especially returns essentially intact. The entire leadership of the Republican-led Senate will stay the same. The leaders of the State Senate, including Greg Reed, Jabo Waggoner, Clay Scofield, Arthur Orr, Greg Albritton, Clyde Chambliss, and Steve Livingston, will all be back in their same leadership posts. The sterling freshman class of Senators will be Sophomores. This class of leaders includes Dan Roberts, Tom Butler, Sam Givhan, Will Barfoot, Garlan Gudger, April Weaver, Donnie Chesteen, Andrew Jones, Chris Elliott, Jack Williams, and David Sessions. The Democratic leaders also return in entirety, including powers Bobby Singleton, Rodger Smitherman, Vivian Figures, and Billy Beasley.
There seems to be a more harmonious working relationship among the Republicans and Democrats in the Senate that has not existed in past years. This body is poised to provide leadership for the state for the next four years.
The State House of Representatives will remain essentially the same, also. However, there has been more reshuffling in this Chamber, especially in the GOP ranks. The super-majority Republican control will definitely continue to exist, with at least 78 of the 105 seats remaining in the grasp of the Republicans. The House is probably more conservative than the Senate, although they are both pretty right-wing.
The leadership of the House of Representatives will change. House Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Madison) and Speaker Pro Tem Victor Gaston (R-Mobile) are not seeking reelection. There has been an internal jockeying for Speaker between Steve Clouse (R-Ozark) and Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Dekalb) going on for almost a year. It will continue until November when the Republican caucus makes their choice. The contest between Ledbetter and Clouse has been gentlemanly without discord or acrimony. Most House members hate to make a choice because both men are so well-liked and respected. There will be harmony when it is decided, they will work together, and both will remain in a leadership position.
There is a cadre of Republican leadership returning to the House, including Clouse and Ledbetter. Republican leaders returning are Danny Garrett, Terri Collins, Ginny Shaver, Jim Hill, Paul Lee, Randall Shedd, Kyle South, Tracey Estes, David Standridge, Steve Hurst, Randy Wood, Jim Carns, David Faulkner, Reed Ingram, Rhett Marquis, Jeff Sorrells, Chris Sells, Chris Blackshear, Joe Lovvorn, Chip Brown, and Chris Pringle.
House Democratic leaders returning are Chris England, Anthony Daniels, Peb Warren, Laura Hill, John Rogers, Mary Moore, Thomas Jackson, Sam Jones, Berry Forte, Dexter Grimsley, and Barbara Boyd.
Incumbency is a potent, powerful, inherent advantage, especially in legislative races. There were a couple of incumbents taken out in the House within the Republican ranks. They were beaten by future female superstars. Indeed, this was a very good year for female Republican legislative candidates all over the state.
There are several new female legislators that are superstars and worth watching as leaders. Cynthia Almond of Tuscaloosa leads the list although she actually has a session under her belt. She won her seat without opposition last year. Almost every list includes Susan Dubose of Shelby County. She beat an incumbent even though her district was distorted to help him win. She won the old-fashioned way. She worked hard. She started early and stayed late.
Ultra-Republican Baldwin County elected all females to represent them in the House of Representatives. Jennifer Fidler, Frances Holk-Jones, and Carla Knight Maddox will make up the Baldwin delegation.
Lee Hulsey of Helena from District 15 in Jefferson/Shelby will be a quick study in the House.
It was not just the year of the woman in statewide races; the ladies have made a significant move in the Alabama House of Representatives.
See you next week.
Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.