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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mitchell will seek eighth term in Senate


Democratic state Sen. Wendell Mitchell said he will run for an eighth term in the Alabama Senate. He said his seniority and knowledge of how Montgomery operates allows him to help constituents.
With the retirement of two senators, Mitchell said he would be in line to "claim the top seniority spot in the state Senate."
He represents District 30, which includes all or part of Autauga, Butler, Crenshaw, Elmore, Lowndes and Pike counties.
He will have at least one opponent, first-term Prattville city Councilman Ray Boles, who was elected to his seat in October. The Republican is a businessman in Prattville.
Political observers considered the 2006 campaign to try to unseat Mitchell to be very negative. He said his opponent, Republican Joan Reynolds, sent out 26 mail pieces to potential voters and 25 of those were negative.
"I did not send out one single negative piece or ad on her," the senator said.
Despite the attacks, Mitchell easily won reelection.
Mitchell said he does not anticipate a negative campaign this year, one in which the Alabama Republican Party has raised millions to try to take over the Legislature from Democrats.
With his experience, Mitchell said he knows the career people in state agencies who "push buttons ... that make things tick." He said he probably knows more people in those positions than anybody else serving in the Senate.
Knowing those people helps him to be responsive to the needs of constituents, Mitchell said.
When asked about running for an eighth term, Mitchell said "I am feeling better physically than I have in 10 years." He said he intentionally lost 10 pounds and has a very high energy level.
Mitchell, the deputy president pro tem in the Senate, said he is ready "to render at least four more years of really committed service and be able to help a lot of people."
During his time in office, Mitchell said he is proud of his assistance to the one major university in his district, Troy University. He said he worked diligently to ensure Troy received its "fair share of allocations."
"They were not at parity with similar organizations until about four years ago," Mitchell said.
He said he has been able to secure as much money, if not more, for legitimate public projects in his district as any of his colleagues with the exception of the chairmen of the budget committees.
Mitchell, the former dean of the law school at Faulkner University, said he has also been a mediator during disputes in the Senate. He said he works behind the scenes to help the Senate be productive.
"I'm not one who holds up the system by filibustering," Mitchell said.
The senator pushed a bill through a Senate committee in 2008 to try to stop the transfer of money between political action committees, a practice that critics say helps to hide the original source of contributions.
Republicans criticized Mitchell and other Democrats for watering down the bill, which never passed. At the time, Mitchell said he allowed members of both parties to include amendments.

-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen

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Location: Montgomery, AL, United States

South Union Street is the blog of Montgomery Advertiser political reporters Markeshia Ricks and Sebastian Kitchen. Always check here for the latest on the Legislature, elections and other activities and players in Alabama.

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