Senator Del Marsh has been in the cat bird’s seat ever since the Republican tsunami of 2010 swung the balance of power in Montgomery from D to R. As president pro tem of the Senate, all roads lead through Marsh’s office. He appoints committee chairs and generally little happens without his blessing.
However, life goes on and with each election new faces pop up in Montgomery. And back home, folks begin to view longtime politicians through a different lens.
Marsh was first elected in 1998. How long ago was that? It was the same year Don Siegleman beat incumbent governor Fob James by 200,000 votes. Twenty years is a lifetime in politics.
The June 5 election gives reason to think Marsh’s clout could be waning. He faced Weaver mayor Wayne Willis in the Republican primary. Marsh spent $458,679 dollars on his campaign. Willis spent $12,892. Yet the senate president pro tem won by less than 1,000 votes.
Plus, when the senate convenes next January, Marsh will be looking at a decidedly different group of senators. Of the 35 in the body, at least 11 of them will be new faces on the Republican side of the aisle. They will be joined by eight Democrats. Only 15 of the Republicans who have served with Marsh will be back.
And sometimes new members don’t care to wait in line. That’s what happened in the House of Representatives in 2014. A number of new Republican house members were not hesitant to buck the iron fist of then Speaker Mike Hubbard. When Hubbard was thrown out of office and Mac McCutcheon took over as speaker, power shifted noticeably.
Educators will watch this all unfold with great interest as Marsh has not been a friend of public schools. He is the one who passed the infamous Alabama Accountability Act in 2013 that has since diverted $147 million from the Education Trust Fund. It is highly unlikely that many in the education community will shed tears when Senator Marsh is no longer around.