MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Longtime Alabama Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh said Friday that he will not seek reelection in 2022.
Marsh, a Republican from Anniston, is in his sixth term in the Alabama Senate and has been elected president pro tempore, the chamber's most powerful position, three times. The news of his departure was first reported by the Anniston Star.
Marsh told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that he is ready to move on after more than two decades in Montgomery.
"I know I'll miss the people I've worked with. I'll miss the process, but I've had a good career there and I'm just ready to spend more time with family,” Marsh said.
A business owner, Marsh was first elected to the Alabama Senate in 1998. He was first elected president pro tempore in 2010 after Republicans won control of the Legislature and helped push through the Republican agenda, sometimes using repeated cloture petitions to end debate by Democrats.
Marsh said he is most proud of his work on school choice. He was the architect of the 2014 Alabama Accountability Act that provides tax credits for donations to scholarship programs to help low-income students attend private schools. The law also provides criteria to designate public schools with the lowest test scores as failing.
Marsh has said the scholarships provide a lifeline to students stuck in underperforming schools. Critics say the tax credits divert money that would otherwise go to public education. The legislation was passed during a chaotic floor fight with Democrats after the scholarship bill was substituted for a different bill.
However, Marsh has also won praise from Democrats for his willingness to work with them.
"I am going to miss him. I hate to see him go," said Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton, the ranking Democrat in the Senate. “Hopefully, whoever comes behind Del from the majority side at least understands the relationships he has cultivated on the other side of the aisle.”
Marsh has at times broken with members of his own party. In 2017, he called for then-Gov. Robert Bentley to step down to avoid possible impeachment by lawmakers. He has also voiced concerns about Republican Gov. Kay Ivey's plan to lease three prisons.
Marsh said that next month he and Senate Republicans will discuss whether he will remain in his leadership position or step down and allow someone else to take the role for the remainder of this term.