North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

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September 30, 2013

UPDATED: Spencer Bachus to retire from Congress; Beason undecided on running, Standridge will pass

The longtime Congressional representative for suburban Jefferson County, and recently all of Blount County, will retire and not seek re-election.

Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Vestavia Hills, is in the midst of his 11th term representing the Sixth District. He announced Monday by an emailed statement, accompanied by a Twitter post, that this term will be his last.

“It has been the greatest privilege imaginable to serve as the representative of the people of Alabama in the United States House of Representatives,” Bachus said in his statement. “But as Ecclesiastes 3 says, to everything there is a season and I feel in my heart that now is the time for me to announce this decision and allow others to have the opportunity to serve.”

Bachus was elected to Congress in 1992. He ran against Democrat incumbent Ben Erdreich, after the Sixth District had been heavily reconfigured to meet a U.S. Justice Department mandate that Alabama have at least one district whose voting population was primarily African-American. The new district boundaries included the suburbs of Jefferson County plus Shelby County, areas that are traditionally conservative Republican.

The district boundaries were redrawn again after the 2010 U.S. Census, and Blount County was brought in.

After his first election, Bachus never faced serious opposition for re-election, and the Democrats did not even field a candidate from 2000 through 2010.

But that changed when Bachus became entangled in controversy over trading in stock and stock-index options while he was serving as chairman of the powerful House Financial Services Committee, activity which was investigated by the television show “60 Minutes.” Bachus claimed that his trades were not a conflict of interest, because he did not use information gained by virtue of his position.

The Office of Congressional Ethics cleared Bachus of any wrongdoing, but the controversy made him politically vulnerable for the first time in his House career. After easily fending off a GOP primary challenge from Kimberly Church of God pastor Stan Cooke in 2010, Bachus ran into stiffer opposition in 2012 from State Sen. Scott Beason of Gardendale and then-Blount County Commission President David Standridge of Hayden.

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