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Barron won’t seek new term as president pro tem

By Phillip Rawls
Associated Press Writer

MONTGOMERY — State Sen. Lowell Barron announced Wednesday he won’t seek another term as president pro tem of the Senate, which left Sen. Jim Preuitt as the frontrunner in a shift of power after eight years with Barron as the Senate’s most influential member.

But one of Barron’s allies immediately expressed an interest in the Senate’s top job, and another has been encouraged to run, possibly creating obstacles to Preuitt’s bipartisan coalition.

“I’ve had several members talk to me and commit to me,” Sen. Hinton Mitchem, D-Albertville, said. “I feel I could be a compromise candidate. I’ve worked closely with Republicans and with the governor’s office on the budget.”

Another Barron ally, Sen. Zeb Little, D-Cullman, said some Democratic senators had approached him about running, “but at this point, I’m not a candidate.”

Barron sent a letter to his fellow senators Wednesday saying, “I want to make it clear that I will not be a candidate for the position of president pro tempore.”

Reacting to the letter, Republican Gov. Bob Riley said, “I think it’s become very evident in the last few days that there will be new leadership in the Senate. I think it’s what the people of Alabama want. They want bipartisanship and they want Democrats and Republicans to work together.”

Barron, D-Fyffe, sent the letter after Preuitt, D-Talladega, appeared to have put together a coalition of Republicans and Democrats that would be strong enough to win the president pro tem’s position.

Preuitt said Barron’s letter was not a surprise, nor Mitchem’s interest in trying to rally Barron’s side before the Senate starts its organizational session Jan. 9.

Electing the president pro tem requires 18 of the Senate’s 35 votes. Preuitt is counting on the votes of seven Democrats and 12 Republicans.

“Our seven Democrats are solid, and I believe at the end of the day, the Republicans will support our effort to organize the Senate on a bipartisan basis,” Preuitt.

Senate Minority Leader Jabo Waggoner, R-Vestavia Hills, predicted that no one will rally Barron’s side.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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