Republican Congressman Spencer Bachus announced Monday that he will not run for re-election when his current term expires about 16 months from now. He says he plans to just focus on being a congressman representing Alabama’s Sixth Congressional District and not a politician working toward the next election.
“There is much important work that remains to be done and what I would like to see above anything else before I leave is a spending reduction plan that will put the federal government on a sensible and sustainable financial path going forward."
The sixth district includes parts of Bibb, Blount, Chilton, Coosa, Jefferson and Shelby counties.
Bachus is the senior member of the Alabama House delegation after serving eleven terms in Congress.
When asked why he was choosing to quit, the Vestavia Hills Republican responded it was a family decision and used biblical terms to explain it.
"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.”
The echoes of Bachus’ announcement had hardly faded before names of possible replacements began to surface in the district considered one of the most conservative in the nation. Among the potential candidates mentioned were State Senators Cam Ward of Alabaster, Scott Beason of Gardendale, and Slade Blackwell of Mountain Brook. Also being mentioned are Jefferson County Commission President David Carrington, Jefferson County Manager Tony Petelos, and Walker County minister Stan Cooke.
Republican Alabama Governor Robert Bentley reacted to the news of the Bachus announcement saying, “I think that does hurt us some as far as seniority is concerned, especially in the House where we have the majority.”
Bachus was first elected to the U.S. House in 1992. He became the first Alabama Republican to chair a House committee since 1873 when he became Chairman of House Financial Services Committee. He is also currently Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law.
His tenure in Congress has not been without some major bumps in the road.
In late April 2012, the Office of Congressional Ethics ended an investigation into allegations Bachus violated insider-trading rules. He was reported to have traded "short" stock options in September 2008, the day after he was part of a closed-door briefing with Henry Paulson Jr., the Treasury Secretary at the time and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
Bachus’ stock trades were found to be unrelated to any information gathered from any meetings.
“The OCE’s unanimous dismissal of these false allegations is a welcome conclusion to a destructive and disruptive media-generated assault,” the congressman said in a statement April 30, 2012.
Bachus said Monday he is most proud of his work to establish the Alabama National Cemetery in Montevallo.
Several Alabama lawmakers weighed in on the Bachus announcement.
“Spencer Bachus has been a powerful force for Alabama and America, standing for solid American values for over two decades in Congress," said Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions. "We have been friends since law school at Alabama. He is a man of faith and integrity who gives his best every day for the country he loves.”
“I have known Spencer to be a fine, gracious person who cares deeply about Alabama and has served his district well,” said fellow Alabama Republican Congressman Robert Aderholt. “Spencer chaired the Financial Services Committee during a time of shaky markets with a steady hand. He and his wife Linda will be missed by the entire delegation.”
“Spencer has been not only a good friend to me, but a mentor since my very first congressional campaign,” announced Alabama Republican Congressman Mike Rogers. “He has represented our great state well and I will miss him and his leadership of our delegation.”
State Republican Chairman Bill Armistead issued a statement saying, “I know that Congressman Bachus will finish his term proudly and will work hard until his final day in office.”
And about the potential candidates to replace Bachus, Armistead said, “This is a critical time in the history of our country and must send to Washington a strong conservative who will stand up against the liberal agenda that is being pushed by President Obama”.
Just last month, Alabama Congressman Jo Bonner of Mobile stepped down to take a job at the University of Alabama. The Republican from Mobile announced his decision to vacate his House seat four months ago.