By CAROLINE BECK, Alabama Daily News
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Rep. Bill Poole, R-Tuscaloosa, and Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter, R-Rainsville, on Tuesday said they both plan to seek the Alabama House’s top leadership spot after current Speaker Mac McCutcheon leaves office next year.
“If the members of the State House of Representatives choose to elect me as Speaker, I will pledge to lead the House with determination, dedication, honesty and transparency as we work together to secure better paying jobs, improved education outcomes, improved health care, expanded broadband access and more investments in innovation and technology,” Poole said in a written statement.
Ledbetter explained in an email to House Republicans on Tuesday his interest in being Speaker and his plans to reach out to members to make his case for the position.
“Because I am both retired and still relatively young, I have the time, energy, and resources necessary to devote 100% of my attention to the job,” Ledbetter said. “I am also committed to making the tough decisions, leading the chamber with authority, and ensuring that the will of the majority is being carried out during floor debates, deliberations, filibusters and votes.”
Poole was first elected in 2010 and currently chairs the House Ways and Means Education committee. Poole said his goal as speaker will be to collaborate with all members to set clear priorities, make sure all voices are heard, establish a transparent process and aggressively pursue the enactment of policies most important to Alabamians.
Ledbetter has been in office since 2014 and became majority leader in 2017. In his letter, Ledbetter said he has worked hard to restore faith and confidence in the position of majority leader after former leader Micky Hammon, R-Decatur, resigned in 2017 and later pleaded guilty to mail fraud.
Several other House members have been rumored to be considering running.
Vice chair of the House Republican Caucus Rep. Connie Rowe, R-Jasper, told ADN on Tuesday that she has considered and even received encouragement over the years to run for Speaker but thinks it is too early in the process to say if she will run for it and wants to wait till next summer to formally decide.
“I worry about everyone coming out now saying they will run for speaker, and we go into special session and then a regular session and everyone feels like they have to line up behind someone or make sure they don’t upset anybody and it really restricts your effectiveness in the House,” Rowe said. “So for me, I think it’s just distracting and not the right time for this decision to be made.”
House General Fund Budget Chairman Rep. Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, told ADN on Tuesday that he does not plan to run after consulting with several other House members and said he will support Poole in his run for Speaker.
“We’ve had to work extensively together particularly back around 2013, 2014 and 2015 when both budgets were in terrible shape, so we work good together and developed a friendship over those times together so I’m not going to run, I’m going to support him,” Clouse said.
McCutcheon this week announced he won’t seek reelection in 2022. But his work wielding the Speaker’s gavel is not yet done. According to an email McCutcheon, R-Monrovia, sent out to members on Monday, 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.