By TODD STACY, MARY SELL and CAROLINE BECK, Alabama Daily News
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – House Speaker Mac McCutcheon, R-Monrovia, will not run again for his House District 25 seat and will therefore also be retiring as speaker after the 2022 elections.
In an email to his House colleagues obtained by Alabama Daily News, McCutcheon said he and his wife, Deb, made a family decision to “make the most of our golden years” away from the State House.
“I will remain active in our local community and busy checking off many ‘honey do’ items that have accumulated in the past decade,” McCutcheon wrote. “Words cannot express the rewarding and fulfilling feeling to sit in the Speaker’s Chair and watch each of you work through the legislative process.”
McCutcheon confirmed the news in a press release later Monday saying it was “an honor and a privilege to represent the people of District 25 in the House and the citizens of Alabama as speaker, but after four terms it’s time to go home.”
McCutcheon’s work welding the Speaker’s gavel is not yet done. According to the email, he will remain in office until after the 2022 elections, meaning he will preside over any special sessions Gov. Kay Ivey calls this fall and the 2022 Regular Session that starts in January. A new speaker will be chosen by the House after the November 2022 elections during an organizational session.
McCutcheon referenced that process in his note to members.
“Whenever there is an announcement of a change in leadership, individuals will step up and pounce on the opportunity to lead. I respect the courageous effort and applaud their willingness to be challenged. I ask that we be mindful of our roles through this term and the leadership we have in place. Let’s stay the course and finish this legislative session together!”
McCutcheon has now served as Speaker of the House for five years, elected by the body in 2016 after the conviction and removal of former Speaker Mike Hubbard. “Mac,” as he is colloquially known in the State House, made waves in his first speech to the body declaring that “the days of the imperial speakership are over.”
That was in reference to Hubbard, who tended to preside over the House with a heavier hand to advance the Republican agenda. McCutcheon’s style has been much more subdued, allowing much more robust – and sometimes seemingly endless – deliberation on issues on the floor and within the Caucus. While the new style was appreciated by many at the beginning, some lawmakers have complained in recent years that the House could be a more tightly run ship.
McCutcheon was first elected in 2006 to the district that includes eastern Limestone County and portions of Madison County.
“Fair” is how several of McCutcheon’s colleagues described the former law enforcement officer whose career included hostage negotiation.
“Probably we’ve never had a better man in the Legislature,” long-time Rep. Lynn Greer, R-Rogersville, said. “If he had a problem, it was probably that he was too fair.”
House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels, D-Huntsville, said it was a great opportunity to have someone from the same north Alabama delegation as him as the Speaker of the House.
“We were together 100% of the time on things that impacted north Alabama,” Daniels said. “I certainly respect and understand his decision to step down and I’ve enjoyed working with him and look forward to working with him through 2022.”
Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur, has served with McCutcheon since 2010 and said her message to him Monday was that he made a wise decision to spend more time with family.
“He’s been committed to the process, he’s been extremely fair to everybody,” Collins said.
Senate President Pro Tem Greg Reed, R-Jasper, was McCutcheon’s counterpart in the upper chamber during the last legislative session.
“I wish the Speaker the best as he begins this next chapter of his life, and I look forward to continuing our strong working relationship for the duration of his term.”