By Nick Katers
MONTGOMERY, Alabama: Representative Jim McClendon (R) kicked off his campaign to win a seat in the Alabama State Senate in 2014. McClendon is running for the Republican nomination in District 11, which is currently represented by Senator Jerry Fielding (R). The candidates have already sparred over jobs and redistricting since McClendon’s announcement on June 4. The race will culminate in a primary on June 4, 2014.
McClendon was first elected to the Alabama House of Representatives in 2002 and currently serves on the House Health Committee. He has not faced any opposition during re-election bids in 2006 and 2010. Jerry Fielding joined the Alabama State Senate in 2010 as a Democrat but switched to the Republican Party in October 2012. Fielding’s party change was spurred by his policy differences with the Democratic Party on a national level.
Both candidates have stated their commitment to improving the district’s economy if elected in November 2014. “Job creation, employment, paychecks, that’s Alabama’s priority,” noted McClendon. Fielding believes his re-election campaign will be “continuous of the last campaign, and that is creation of jobs to put people back to work.”
The relationship between McClendon and Fielding is already tense due to questions about McClendon’s role on the Alabama Redistricting Commission. Fielding has implied that McClendon used his role on the commission to shift favorable counties into District 11 with an eye toward a 2014 bid. “He and Senator (Gerald) Dial chaired the reapportionment, the result of which is a district that makes it more conducive for him to run for the Senate seat,” argued Fielding on the day of McClendon’s campaign announcement. During the redistricting process, McClendon noted that the addition of new counties to District 11 was designed to rectify representation problems for residents of St. Clair County. "“Can anybody tell me the last time we had a Senator that lived in St. Clair County? I don’t think we’ve ever had one. We’ve not had a Senator from St. Clair County in my lifetime – I know that," said McClendon in July 2012.