Sanders will not run for reelection
The Selma Democrat said, instead, he will focus his efforts on other endeavors including writing a series of books he started several years ago and has been unable to finish. He is in his seventh term in the Senate, which ends in 2010.
"This political phase of my life is complete, and it is time for me to move on to new challenges, new responsibilities and new commitments," Sanders said in a statement released to several media outlets on Thursday.
During the last legislative session, which concluded last month, Sanders said he was leaning toward not running again. He said his soul was pushing him in another direction.
In the statement, Sanders said he had been struggling with the decision for months.
"This decision has weighed heavy on my mind and heart and did not come easy," he said.
His retirement will create a vacancy for the much-coveted chairmanship of the Senate education budget committee.
"As chair of the Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee, I committed myself to the school children of this state, and tried to make a real difference in the programs, the teaching and the environment in which our children live and learn," he said. "I hope our children will continue to be a priority of the state Senate and the state of Alabama."
Even Republican Gov. Bob Riley, who does not often praise Democrats, applauded Sanders for his work on the most recent education budget, which used federal stimulus money to help save the jobs of thousands of education employees during these tough financial times.
"When it came down to it, he was under a tremendous amount of pressure to cut these programs, but I think he understands probably more than anybody in the Senate how much this has done for rural Alabama schools," Riley said in a release when he signed the $6.2 billion budget. "I want to thank him for standing up to the political opposition that he faced."
District 23, which he represents, includes all or part of Autauga, Clarke, Conecuh, Dallas, Lowndes, Marengo, Monroe, Perry, and Wilcox counties.
Sanders, a practicing attorney, is a Baldwin County native and a graduate of Harvard Law School. He has received more than 200 awards and recognitions, according to the state Senate’s Web site.
Wallace Community College Selma named one of its newest additions the Hank Sanders Technology Center.
Sanders, 66, is one of several Senate veterans who has said he will not run again in 2010. Other senators include Democrat Bobby Denton of Muscle Shoals and Republican Charles Bishop of Jasper.
With retirements, other departures, a death, a corruption conviction and an election to Congress, the Senate will start the 2011 session with at least eight different members in the 35-member body than the beginning of the current four-year term and more retirements could be announced in the coming year.
— posted by Sebastian Kitchen