By TODD STACY, Alabama Daily News
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – After ten years of leading the Alabama Senate as president pro tempore, Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, officially stepped down from the upper chamber’s top job Tuesday, relinquishing the role to Sen. Greg Reed, R-Jasper.
The friendly leadership transition, first reported in November, became official as lawmakers opened the 2021 legislative session. Turning in his letter of resignation to the secretary of the Senate, Marsh thanked his colleagues, staff and family for their support during his tenure as pro tem, the longest in Senate history.
“It has been a privilege to serve as pro tem of this body since 2010,” Marsh said from the Senate floor, choking up at moments. “I believe we’ve accomplished some great things together.”
Marsh told colleagues he will remain a “regular senator” and focus on specific issues like education, expanding broadband internet and a gambling package during his last two years in office. Marsh previously announced that he would not seek reelection in 2022.
Even though he helped engineer the Republican takeover of the Senate in 2010, Marsh said he was most proud of the bipartisan nature of the leadership transition and how the two parties have worked together.
Reed’s ascent to the Senate’s top leadership position had been long planned. He had served as Majority Leader under Marsh for six years.
Both men received praise from Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton.
“Del Marsh, I thank you,” Singleton, D-Greensboro, said. “I feel like I’m losing a brother, but I also know I am gaining a great general who is going to come after you.
“Sometimes I felt like I got more out of the Republicans than when we were in charge,” Singleton joked. “You truly helped me change how I saw the state of Alabama and how we were able to move legislation in a bipartisan manner.”
Elected unanimously in a roll call vote, Reed said the chamber would operate smoothly and allow for both parties’ viewpoints.
“I want to support every member of this body,” Reed said. “I want to focus on communication, letting you all know what we’re doing, what I’m doing… and I want the people of Alabama to know what the Senate is doing on their behalf.”
In other leadership changes, Sen. Clay Scofield, R-Guntersville, was named majority leader, a job that entails leading Senate Republicans’ agenda in the State House and reelection efforts on the campaign trail.
Scofield said he would pursue a conservative agenda, but that disagreement over policy doesn’t have to be hostile.
“Republicans are in the majority so we are definitely going to see some conservative issues come up and pass through this body,” he said. “There’s no reason we can’t leave this body as friends after fierce debate. That is one of the beauties of the Alabama State Senate”
There are also new committee leaders in the Senate, leadership announced Tuesday. The departure of former Sen. Cam Ward to the Bureau of Pardons and Paroles opened up the Judiciary Committee chairmanship, which will be filled by Sen. Tom Whatley, R-Auburn, . That opens up the chairmanship of the Agriculture Committee, which will be filled by Sen. Larry Stutts, R-Tuscumbia. Scofield’s ascent to majority leader left his former Confirmations Committee in need of a chairman. That job will go to Sen. Clyde Chambliss, R-Prattville, who will maintain his role as Republican Floor Leader.