By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Thursday, April 4, State Senator Marc Keahey (D) from Grove Hill announced to his fellow senators that he would not seek re-election.
The announcement by the Grove Hill Democrat makes it even more unlikely that the Alabama Democratic Party will be able to win back control of the Alabama Senate. Sen. Keahey was first elected in a 2009 special election following the passing of Sen. Pat Lindsey (D). In 2010, the Alabama Republican Party won its first Senate majority in over 130 years.
Presently the Senate is composed of 23 Republicans, 11 Democrats, and one Independent. Alabama’s legislative districts were redrawn after the 2010 election by a Republican controlled Joint Committee on Redistricting. Population movement into majority Republican districts helped Republicans protect their super-majority in redistricting and reapportionment. Most political insiders believe that the redistricting plan passed by the legislature and cleared by the U.S. Justice Department (before mandatory pre-clearance was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court) made Sen. Keahey’s District 22, Sen. Tammy Irons’ District 1, and Sen. Jerry Fielding’s District 11 unlikely holds for the Democrats. Both Senators Keahey and Irons are not seeking re-election. Sen. Fielding switched his party affiliation to the Alabama Republican Party the summer after the redistricting plan was passed. Fielding faces both a primary challenge from state Representative Jim McClendon (R) from Springville and a Democratic challenger, Ron Crumpton, in November.
Republicans are hoping to pick up both Keahey and Irons State Senate seats. It is not known at this time who, if anyone, the Alabama Democratic Party will appoint to run for the vacant District 22 seat. If Republicans pick up District 22 and District 1 they could still hold their current super-majority even if they were to lose two Republican incumbents and made no further pickups.
Republicans Stephen Sexton, Harry D’Olive, Jr., Danny B. Joyner, Jeff Peacock, and Greg Albritton all qualified to run in February for Keahey’s Senate District 22. The Republican Primary will be held on June 3rd.
According to his Senate biography, Sen. Keahey was raised in Grove Hill and is a lifelong native of southwest Alabama. He was a baseball player and Academic All-American at Lurleen B. Wallace Community College before going on to earn a business degree from the University of Alabama. In 2004, Senator Keahey graduated from the Cumberland School of Law. He then returned home to use his law degree as a public defender, a private attorney, and an assistant district attorney for the First Judicial Circuit Court.
Keahey was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives House District 65 in 2006 and the state Senate in 2009. Keahey survived the 2010 Alabama Republican landslide and remains popular with Alabama Democrats statewide.
Senator Keahey helped bring ThyssenKrupp Steel to South Alabama. He organized town hall meetings and community gatherings after the steel giant decided to open its doors. Senator Keahey was re-elected on November 2, 2010 to the District 22 State Senate seat. He and his wife, Lara, have three children, Marc II, Scarlette, and Laren Louise (“Weezie”).
While the Republican super-majority in the Senate increasingly appears safe, many Republican incumbents face challengers in their Republican primaries. Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R) from Anniston has accused some of the challengers of working with groups such as the AEA.