Rep. Jim McClendon said Tuesday he would seek the Senate District 11 seat next year, setting up a primary battle with first-term Sen. Jerry Fielding, R-Sylacauga, who says he plans to seek re-election.
McClendon, a Republican from Springville, chairs the House Health Committee. First elected to the House in 2002, McClendon said in a phone interview that at the end of his first term in 2006, he had come to the conclusion that senators “are in a better position to get things done for their constituents.” He said his focus would be on jobs.
“Job creation is Alabama’s priority,” he said. ”Job creation, employment, paychecks, that’s Alabama’s priority.”
Fielding, a former circuit and district judge in Talladega County, won election to the Senate in 2010 as a Democrat, the only pick-up for the party in a landslide Republican election. But citing disagreements with the national Democratic Party, Fielding last October switched his affiliation to the Republicans.
In an interview Tuesday, Fielding said he would also emphasize employment issues in his re-election campaign.
“It will be continuous of the last (campaign), and that is creation of jobs to put people back to work,” he said.” Fielding said he would also run on passing laws for senior citizens and promoting tax incentives for manufacturers.
The senator made his switch a few months after the Legislature approved a redistricting plan that moved several Republican-leaning counties into District 11. The reapportionment commission was chaired by McClendon and Sen. Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, and Fielding Tuesday accused McClendon of drawing the districts to benefit his Senate aspirations.
“The district was rearranged by redistricting, which would make it easier for someone like Rep. McClendon to run,” he said. ”He and Sen. Dial chaired the reapportionment committee, the result of which is a district that makes it more conducive for him to run for the Senate seat.”
McClendon said Tuesday he focused his efforts on the House districts. McClendon said he and Dial had an agreement to “not be involved in the way lines were drawn” in the opposite chamber’s body.
The primary will be held on June 4, 2014.
The first campaign finance reports will be due early next month, but McClendon appears to start with a significant financial edge. In January, the representative reported having $88,275.78 in his campaign committee, compared to $876.75 for Fielding.
– posted by Brian Lyman