MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama House Speaker Mac McCutcheon said Monday he will not seek reelection next year.
McCutcheon, 68, said in a statement that he is stepping away from politics to spend time with his family and to do some traveling with his wife during retirement.
“It’s been an honor and a privilege to represent the people of District 25 in the House and the citizens of the State of Alabama as speaker, but after four terms it’s time to go home,” McCutcheon said.
McCutcheon, a Republican from Monrovia, is a former police officer and crisis negotiator. He was first elected to the House in 2006. He served as the chairman of the influential House Rules Committee, which decides what bills come up for debate, from 2012 to 2016.
McCutcheon came to the helm of the House at a time that the state was being battered by scandals.
McCutcheon was selected as Speaker in 2016 to replace former House Speaker Mike Hubbard, who was removed from office after being convicted on ethics charges. McCutcheon, known for his affable demeanor, had promised to depart from the authoritative style of his predecessor.
“The days of the imperial speakership are over,” McCutcheon said at the time.
House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter, R-Rainsville, said McCutcheon had restored stability to the speaker’s office.
“Combining a firm hand with a kind heart, he worked to ensure that the voices of all members — regardless of rank or party affiliation — were given the opportunity to be heard,” Ledbetter said.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said people should be proud of McCutcheon.
“Not only has he worked hard for Alabama, Mac is simply a good guy,” Ivey said.
McCutcheon’s tenure still saw its own controversy.
In 2017, the House of Representatives began impeachment hearings against then-Gov. Robert Bentley. Bentley later resigned. McCutcheon said he had quietly warned Bentley in a “friend-to-friend” meeting that there were enough votes in the House to impeach him.
With McCutcheon as speaker the GOP-dominated House of Representatives continued to push a socially conservative and pro-business agenda. Lawmakers in 2019 passed legislation what was then the most stringent abortion legislation in the nation, making performing an abortion a felony including in cases of rape and incest. The law was blocked by a federal judge.
However, House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels, D-Huntsville, who serves in the same local delegation as McCutcheon, said he thought the last legislative session was one of the most successful during his time in Montgomery.
McCutcheon said he is proudest of working with House members.
“I have nothing but respect and admiration for every member of the House,” McCutcheon said. “We’ve had our political disagreements, but it was never personal, and I will treasure my days in the House for the rest of my life,” McCutcheon said.
A new speaker will be selected in the organizational session in 2023.