On the last day of the Legislative Session I was visiting with some friends in the Senate Chambers on the seventh floor of the Statehouse. When it became apparent they were finished with their business for the year and were going to adjourn the Session sine die in about an hour, I meandered two floors down to the House Chamber. My old House seat was empty, so I sat down in my old chair to visit with Alan Boothe from Troy who took over my House seat when I retired in 1998.

Boothe said, I think you are going to be here in your old seat to see an historic announcement. At that moment, House Speaker Seth Hammett asked Speaker Pro Tem Demetrius Newton to take over the Speaker’s chair for him so that he could go to the well and make an announcement. Seth announced that he would not seek reelection to his House seat from Covington County in 2010. Therefore, he would not be Speaker again. It was a nostalgic moment. Seth and I are old friends. We sat by each other in the House for 16 years. In fact, we sat by each other when the House Chamber was in the old Capitol.

Seth’s announcement reminded me of a day 23 years earlier. It was in the closing days of the 1986 Legislative Session. Gov. George Wallace’s aides wheeled him into the old House Chamber near Seth’s and my desk. We knew what was coming. Seth and I stood close by as Wallace announced his retirement from politics.

Even though he could have constitutionally sought an unprecedented fifth term as Governor, with tears in his eyes Wallace gave his “I bid you a fond adieu” speech. It was moving the same as Seth’s speech on May 15 was to those of us who have followed and participated in politics for all of our lives.

Seth Hammett will have served 32 years when he retires in 2010. He noted that he was first elected at age 31 and he is now 62. Therefore, he has been a member of the State House of Representatives for half his entire life. Hammett would have easily won reelection to his House seat and would have probably been reelected Speaker. If so, he would have broken the record for longevity as Speaker. He has been the presiding officer of the House for 12 years.

The race is now on for Speaker. The House membership will elect their Speaker in January 2011 after the 2010 Legislative elections. If the Democrats remain in the majority, Tuscumbia Representative Marcel Black will be the favorite. If the Republicans were to gain control, Auburn Representative Mike Hubbard would probably be Speaker.

Rumor and speculation abounds around the Capitol that the federal investigations surrounding Attorney General Troy King will culminate with an indictment. He has been under scrutiny by the Republican U.S. Attorney Alice Martin. The Obama administration has recently appointed her replacement Democrat Joyce Vance. Vance is familiar with the probe. She has been an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Northern District for seven years and is a very able prosecutor.

Luther Strange has announced that he will challenge Troy King in the Republican primary. Speculation is that Strange will be unopposed when the time for qualifying rolls around next year. King’s prosecution is politically motivated, much like Don Siegelman’s.

The former Governor Siegelman’s appeal to the Eleventh Circuit has been denied. Siegelman is 63. He was convicted, along with Richard Scrushy, in 2006. An interesting side to that sad story is that most folks who follow legal and political developments are convinced that the only reason that Siegelman was convicted was because he was tied to Richard Scrushy. Scrushy is so despised and the fact that he skated on the HealthSouth fraud case in Birmingham so incensed people that they were determined to nail Scrushy. The irony is that when he and Siegelman were indicted together the arrogant Scrushy commented, oh God, they’ve indicted me with a politician. The exact opposite was true. Siegelman went down because of Scrushy.

In addition to Seth Hammett’s announcement, another momentous retirement announcement came in the waning days of the Session. State Senator Bobby Denton of Muscle Shoals announced that he would not run again. Denton is the Dean of the Senate. He is the State’s longest serving Senator. At the end of his term next year he will have served 32 years. He has been one of the most beloved members of that body. Six people are already planning to run for his northwest Alabama district.