Senator Mitchell being treated for rare condition
Longtime state Sen. Wendell Mitchell is being treated for a rare blood condition, but he will return to his normal duties in four to six weeks, according to a letter from his son.
Mitchell, a Democrat who represents all or part of Autauga, Elmore, Butler, Crenshaw, Lowndes, and Pike counties, is "being treated at one of the leading hematology clinics in the United States," according to the letter from Maury Mitchell of Montgomery to his father's friends and colleagues.
"His treatments are progressing well, and, hopefully, he can be back to performing his normal duties within four to six weeks," his son wrote. "In the meantime, by doctor's orders, he cannot make or receive phone calls.
"He very much misses being able to attend Senate sessions and conduct his normal daily workload with his school and among constituents."
Mitchell is the dean emeritus of the Jones School of Law at Faulkner University.
Marsha Allison, administrative assistant for Mitchell, said she talked to him Sunday and said he sounded better than he has in a while.
He is the deputy president pro tem of the Senate. By virtue of his position, Mitchell is a voting member of almost all standing committees in the Senate. He is chairman of the Governmental Affairs Committee.
Mitchell was visibly ill when he came to the Senate to vote for the much-debated bingo bill, which would allow people to vote on whether they want to tax and regulate gambling in the state. He has said he is opposed to gambling, but supports letting people vote.
At the time, some of his Democratic colleagues applauded his effort to come to the chamber in spite of his illness, which they did not know was as serious at the time. They needed 21 votes to pass the constitutional amendment and the bill passed the Senate 21-13.
Some House members have discussed amending the bill, which would require 21 votes for the Senate to concur or take other action.
McDowell Lee, secretary of the Senate, said members must be present and answer the roll call to vote.
The Senate has three work days remaining including today.
Mitchell, 69, is in his seventh term representing District 30. He filed to run for an eighth term.
Jim Spearman, executive director of the Alabama Democratic Party, said the chairman of the party talked to friends of Mitchell and said the senator plans to run for another term.
"As far as I know he's our candidate and he'll be a good one as he always is," Spearman said.
Mitchell will face the winner of the three men in the Republican primary, Ray Boles, Ken Barnett and Bryan Taylor. He has no primary opposition.
Allison did not know where Mitchell was being treated. She said Mitchell's son would be by the Senate office this afternoon to pick up an envelope of cards and take those to Mitchell.
-- posted by Sebastian Kitchen